Tomorrow, Saturday, April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day. It is a day when a lot of focus will be on all the needs of those and their families who live with autism every day. There will be many articles highlighting the negative or stressful aspects of the syndrome, and its stresses on both the individual and their families. I don’t believe this is the full story though, as a lot of my Exceptional Parent friends will agree. They would echo me right now in my statements that our kids are wonderfully creative, versatile and amazing individuals, who have helped us look at life in a totally different and cool way. The problem is that the world, much of the world, still seeks for them to conform to what some call “normal” or “the right way.” This is no one right way to be yourself. Yes, there are social rules. Yes, there are ways we all have to conduct ourselves. But much of what our kids have to show the rest of us neuro typical and exceptional by association people, is that people’s brains all work a little differently. If we look at the world as one dimensional in all things, we will be missing out on so much. Unique abilities, strengths and ways of seeing the same thing differently and trying out new ways to fix a problem, are imperative for solving so many of the world’s issues that plague us now. I truly believe this deep down in my heart.
Every minute of every day Michael shows me a way to see things differently. Yes, sometimes these lessons are tinged with stress like when he isn’t listening. But now, that I am doing some detective work, real detective work, I am able to dig into the reserves of patience I do have for someone not seeing the image before his eyes the same as me. An example of this is when I am tired or irritated, either early morning or at night. Michael not really understanding how to read my facial cues, will always assume I am angry. Sometimes he has been right and I have realized I am being passive aggressive. I have mentally taken my hat off to him during those moments. However, at other times it has been exhausting to me that he can’t see, really see my facial expression. Then I realize, this is hard for him in the same way directions and finding my way are hard for me. So we use our two different brains to help one another. One is not better than another. Both are equal and have different strengths is all.
And I love his brain. I love how he is fearless, how he is inventive, how he is brave in a world that doesn’t always make sense to him. It doesn’t always make sense to me either! What I don’t love is how some people draw conclusions about his strengths and weaknesses based on his verbal abilities, the school he goes to, the way he needs to move to calm down. I don’t like that there are so many people trying to “cure” Exceptional Children in general when that is not what they need. They need understanding, learning tools, and people to accept them for all they are. All of our kids can do amazing things in their own way.
Exceptional Parents, how will you be marking World Autism Awareness Day? Will you be lighting it up blue? I will! I will also be doing the same thing I do every day with my family, such as living with and embracing autism as I do all the other characteristics my little guy was born with, his bright brown eyes and hair, his quirky sense of humor, his love of directions, reading and music, and now astronomy. I will be thinking, praying and sending good thoughts and vibes to all the amazing people I know who have autism and who live with someone who has autism as well. Until next time.