This morning I woke up and saw snow on the ground. My first thought was how wonderful. I’ve always loved the first snowfall of the year. There’s something magical about it. It brings me back to my childhood and all the joy of playing in the snow, of being a kid.
When Michael was first diagnosed with autism the transition of one season to another was very hard for him, and subsequently for me. He didn’t understand what winter was, why he had to wear certain clothes and didn’t pick up on the social cues of those around him. I distinctly remember having to teach him how to react to winter by looking at me as I acted out surprise, joy, picking up snow in my gloved hands, sticking my tongue out to catch snowflakes, making snow angels. You get the picture. It was difficult the first few years, then about two or three years ago he magically got it. He got the joy of what the season would bring to him, sledding, playing in the snow, skating. And when I saw that snow this morning I eagerly waited for him to get up and see it too. I couldn’t wait to see the expression of joy on his face, the expression of recognition of what was to come.
So I woke him up with the following:
“Michael, there’s a surprise waiting for you. Get up and come see!”
I knew he was up in bed having said good morning. He was just taking his time getting out of bed. All of a sudden I heard quick movement and running. In seconds he was in the living room.
“It’s snowing! Yeah, the first snowfall. Winter is here! No more fall!”
Then he shocked me.
“Mommy, I knew you were talking about the snowfall. I could hear it in your voice! I’m so happy.”
The joy that coursed through me seeing his little face lit up was three fold:
- He recognized the changing of the season as something good and what it would bring.
- He was happy and excited about change, something that is still difficult from time to time.
- He was acting like any kid would, socially appropriate, and the more things he did this way, the easier life would get. BUT yet he was doing his way. He was giving his spin of it with his comment “I knew what you were saying Mommy.”
He knows things before I say them. He’s so intuitive and intense. He senses some things before they happen. It’s a gift. It’s one of his many gifts.
I’ve said this before. I don’t want to change Michael for anything in the world. He is absolutely perfect as he is. Autism is part of that perfect, though it makes his life and his father’s and mine challenging in our crazy world, not built by or for people who think outside the box like him. It is starting to change gradually, but not fast enough sometimes. A lot of us so-called NT people (Neuro Typical, thank you very much) have difficulties in this world too. I’m referring to myself, of course, though I have lots of spectrum markers myself. I think all of us do to a certain extent. But that is not the point. The point is that I want to help him get along as easily as he can in the world, trying to understand and accept the NT world’s foreign language as most NT people are trying to understand his autism language. It’s a pretty cool language, like that of his friends.
Michael has taught me so much, and continues to teach me so much. Going for a drive in the car has me seeing directions in a whole new way. His version of imaginary friends and making them TONS of birthday cakes is unique. His questions on spirituality, reincarnation and the like, are things I’d never thought I’d be discussing with him until he was way into his teens. His sense of compassion, caring and his quirky sense of humor also keep me on my toes. So watching him enjoy the first snowfall, the exceptional way, was beautiful too.
In what ways do your Exceptional Children make you see life, and typical events like first snowfalls, in their own way? How have they opened your eyes, Exceptional Moms and Dads? For me, each child is a unique gift and brings that gift into the world. Our exceptional children are no different. Here’s wishing you lots more magical moments where they open your eyes to the exceptional things to come. Until next time.