I look at the clock and it reads 4:00am. The familiar screech of my autistic four year that vibrates through the house. I grope the other side of bed in search of the person who is normally there, but I find an empty space. I get up from my warm, comfortable bed, and pad down the child’s bedroom. There I find a child jumping on his bed, screeching at the top of his lungs, obsessing over the ceiling fan. I am praying to God that my neighbours can’t hear him through the walls. I give it my best effort to soothe this child back to sleep even if it is just for two hours. In two hours, I will have a fight on my hands to get two other children dressed, fed and ready for school. Thus begins my day.
In my caffeine induced haze, it dawns on me that today is the beginning of April. For us it’s the start of Autism Awareness and the Month of the Military Child. I chuckle to myself when the thought that both those things are my children. Autism and Military Children. I don’t want to say that they got double whammied, but in this whole month, we are supposed to bring awareness and recognition to both worlds. I know that like many military children out there, my children are no exception. In fact they part of a whole new Category of Special Needs Military Children.
Just like the average Military Child (I refuse to call them Military Brats, as they are far from bratty), special needs military children have to deal with everything that comes with the lifestyle. The deployments, the moving every three years, new schools, new houses and saying goodbye. But behind all of that, they are also dealing with the diagnosis that was given to them. For us its Autism and ADHD. For others, it’s a different diagnosis. I talk only of what is affecting our family.
Through my sleepy haze and caffeine induced perkiness, I see three children that have dwelt with what life throws at them with remarkable grace. They each have their own journey to go on. But they all have the one component that reminds the same. Military Child. In their own way they have learned to deal with their Father not being home. Although my spectrum children don’t quite understand what Honor, Courage and Strength mean, my NT son sure does. But I see how being a military child effects all three. They are proud. They are strong. Even the two on the spectrum show it when they don’t know it.
So every April through the sea of blue and multitude of puzzle pieces, remember there are military children that have autism and living in a military lifestyle. They didn't ask for it. Many of them were born into it. Just as the Military member has every right to have a spouse, they also have the right to a family. And sometimes that family includes special needs children.
Now if I could only catch a nap... That's right I am Autism Aware..