That's right. Niam went shark diving! This is the beginning of Niam's new secret to life, don't think, move ahead, become more powerful than the creator of the diagnosis "Autism", and think beyond the impossible. Eleven years ago "empowered" with a diagnosis associated with limited services, a grim outlook, who would have thought Niam would embrace life to the fullest, position himself amongst the daring, understand his disabilities and forge forward to prove - Yes I can - and turn his back to the non-believers.
I had dreams at night, cold sweats, at the thought of Niam not understanding the dangers of shark diving, with a leg or arm missing, me jumping in without a thought to ward of a shark, me closing my eyes to rest in the depths of the sea. It did not help when I saw the shark cage, with its large spaces, the instructors giving complex safety instructions, beyond the language comprehension of my son. Could this be deja-vu?
During the voyage to the middle of a deceivingly beautiful blue calm like ocean, I spoke to Niam, discouraging him from participating, I was afraid of thrusting him into the marvels of the unknown. Fright was far from Niam's mind, I can only admire the courage of Niam, to step into an adventure of the unknown, where Niam's understanding of the true dangers were limited in the face of the unknown. Trying to discourage Niam was like trying to persuade Alice not to go through the looking glass. Niam's response was strong and forceful " Niam in the Cage" " Shark Outside the Cage"
I had to take matters in my own hands. I was afraid Niam would put his hands through the shark cage or his legs. The water was murky and seeing the bottom of the cage was not possible. I spoke to one of the guides on board and, for a bit of extra money, he accompanied Niam in the cage, and held his legs in between his legs to ensure no cute little toes were all where they were supposed to be, a huge relief for me.
Niam experienced shark diving. Saw the sharks and was safe. I was proud of my son! He leaped out of the safe comforts of daily routine and embraced life as we all should, a lesson learned to me, to assist and encourage the growth, not to stifle from my own fears. A few weeks later, Niam was completing a homework assignment, the question - What are you worried about? Niam's surprisingly answer - Scary Monsters, Sharks, Bug
He does understand! He understood all along!