Something in someone else's journal made me want to post a letter I wrote last May, after Time magazine did a cover article on autism. It is about my son.
The piece does a good job of describing some of the stresses faced by parents of AS/autistic kids, but I felt something was missing. As hard as raising D can be, there are great joys as well.
Here are some of the things I've learned from D and his life:
1. God is simpler than we think. D seems to have an understanding of God that I often envy. Part of it is being a child, but not all -- I have seen other children struggle with what for D seems easy.
2. The adage that "Children are cruel" is not necessarily true. Yes, children can be cruel -- so can adults. Yes, we have had problems with bullies, with kids who make D feel ashamed of himself. But children can also be amazingly loyal and generous. I have known children to
speak up in his behalf when it would have been easier and emotionally safer for them to remain silent. I have seen an entire Little League team of seven and eight year old boys -- a demographic that is not necessarily known for its kindness -- encourage and cheer him for things -- hitting a foul ball, for instance -- which they would have taken for granted or dismissed for themselves. (Of course, much credit for this has to be given to the coaches in this case: God bless you, Amy and Mark.)
3. People who devote their lives to working with special needs kids are treasures beyond price. The gifted and caring professionals in our lives have not only helped D but have helped me in understanding and valuing my son. (Whatever the school district pays you, Mrs. R. and Mrs. K, has got to be less than half of what you deserve.)
4. I am not always understandable, myself, and I need to remember that: just as his thought processes confuse me sometimes, mine are equally baffling to him.
5. Thinking differently can be a gift. Once, D was discussing an upcoming school assembly with Mrs. R, his speech and language specialist. At this particular assembly, there was going to be a cow and her calf. Mrs. R reminded D that he was not to shout out during the assembly. D thought for a moment, and asked, "But why would the cow care?" At the time, I laughed -- how like him to forget or fail to notice all the other people. But there is another side to this coin -- how like him to recognize the cow as having feelings, to give thought to the cow as its own being, rather than simply something interesting to look at or learn about.
Yes, life can be hard with D at times. But, as I have heard him often say, the world is a very interesting place. It is my good fortune he is generous enough to share his view of it with me sometimes.