When Moe was born, I joined a mom's group. I found that being a stay at home mom was sometimes quite lonely and isolating and the group was a way to meet other families in the area and get out and have some fun with our little ones. A small group of us met for playdates every Thursday morning, but with Moe's busy schedule, I had to stop going a couple months ago.
On Sunday, one of the moms hosted a potluck breakfast at her house. I was excited to see everyone, but a little anxious about going, since it was the first time I'd be seeing the moms since "coming out" about Moe's diagnosis, via this blog. I wasn't sure who knew and who didn't, and if I needed to say anything. I certainly wasn't looking for sympathy. I felt like it would have to be mentioned, but I really just wanted a nice morning out with the family.
I shouldn't have been nervous. It was a great morning. I am fortunate that the moms in the group are all smart, educated, caring women who have always been supportive of each other. With the women I know well, we talked about the blog and about Moe a little, and then we talked about other things. With the moms I don't know as well, we talked about our newborns and babies on the way, and whatever we would always talk about. Moe did great too. I tend to forget that just because he now has a diagnosis, he isn't actually any different than he was before. He did his own thing, exploring the yard and playing with the toys. For the most part, he just seems a little younger than the other kids. And at just over 2 years old, all of the kids have their challenges and quirks. In isolation, these are just normal toddler behaviors.
This outing got me thinking. What do I tell people? Should I say anything? It is hard not to, when we're catching up, talking about things like preschools and how we're spending our days. If I don't say anything, I feel like I'm hiding something. On the other hand, not everyone needs to know. If someone asks me how Moe is adjusting to having a big sister, I should be able to simply answer the question. If I take Moe to a music or gym class, shouldn't we just be able to participate at the level that is comfortable for us? But what about someplace like the dentist, or when interviewing babysitters?
Does having the people around me know that Moe has autism make it easier or harder for me? For Moe? I tend to be an open book on this kind of thing, but I don't want Moe to have a harder time than necessary, or have him treated any differently than other kids, unless it will be helpful to him. I think it may take some time for me to figure this one out.