There's an ongoing discussion with myself – am I Mama Rose, pushing her child too hard or am I the supportive mom, giving him opportunities to shine? It’s a line I’m always looking at and trying not to cross. I want Henry to shine. I want everyone to experience the greatness of Henry. Mostly I want Henry to experience the greatness of Henry.
We were on a local morning show on the last day of Autism Awareness Month and originally, we were going to do some bits — Henry was going to read from the teleprompter, throw to commercial, talk show host stuff. But production schedules changed and instead we were interviewed. I said yes because I was so grateful for the opportunity but really, being interviewed isn’t his thing. He jumbles his syntax with a lot of “I like for my friends”, and likes to retain a talk show host patter, even when he has nothing to say so there’s a lot of babble before he gets to a point.
I want him to be his very best. I want him to do his thing. And I want him to be who he is. Who he is, is an extraordinarily gifted person with a talent for entertaining others. Sometimes that quality is on fire.
And who he is, is a young man with autism. Sometimes that is not so cute. Like when he handles stress by projectile vomiting in the car. Which was a possibility for our TV appearance, so we travelled with an extra shirt, a plastic bag and a towel.
Sometimes, it’s fascinating and intriguing — listening to his wild syntax and how he circles and circles and circles and then he lands with something beautiful, like when he was being interviewed by Leah Nash on her podcast. He was all over the place and then in the midst of some kind of crazy sentence I heard, “sometimes I get overwhelmed for my sensory.” I have never heard him talk about having sensory issues. I’ve never heard him talk about being overwhelmed.
Sometimes it’s warm and delightful, as he was on that morning being interviewed by Bob and Amy. He was nervous. He rarely gets nervous. Maybe because we were doing something different than we’d planned on. Maybe because I was there and it was really an interview with me with him as the sidekick. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t been in a real TV studio before. When I asked, he said he was fine. He’s always Yes and always Fine and always Happy. When tears are pouring down his face he’s saying “Happy”.
For me, even though he didn’t get to do exactly his thing, he shined. At the wrap up he kind of stops the conversation and says “I love you guys” to the hosts.
I (on the Mama Rose side) wanted him to do hilarious bits and show-off his talk show hosting skills. On supportive mom side, I got to enjoy the greatness of Henry -- him being him with wild syntax, relating everything back to his friends, mentioning every teacher he’s ever had and telling the hosts, “I love you guys.”