I am ashamed to admit that I used to look at the kids who were throwing themselves down in the middle of Wal-Mart's aisles and wonder just why the mom was letting the child act that way. I would always tell myself that my child would never! And if he did, then that would only happen once!
Then God performed a miracle and I had a child who he blessed with Autism.
What?! A miracle and a blessing?! Are you crazy?!
Probably. But yes, a miracle and a blessing. I have not always looked at it that way. And to be honest, there are days that I still don't! Especially when I am the mom of that kid in Wal-Mart. Or when I am seen trying to calm a tearful scared child who stands inches above me when we are in the pediatrician's office. Or when The Boy refuses to let anyone but Shannon touch him at the orthodontist office.
I will not lie when I say that I sometimes wish that my son had a limp or a cast or whatever that could be seen by the world instead of this invisible disability. At least then there would be no scathing looks from others when the above happens. I can handle those looks (or I at least like to tell myself that I can), but I get royally ticked when they are directed at The Boy.
If I try to explain that The Boy is on the spectrum, the looks turn to a couple of different things. Since he has grown so much, most of the time the look continues as anger because now I am just trying to cover for an overgrown brat or a really spoiled teen. Or, it could turn to confusion and then pity. Very rarely does it ever go from confusion to understanding.
A miracle and a blessing is what I have.
When my Grandmother says in awe, "he hugged me", I am reminded of this. When my teenager tells me that he loves me and doesn't mind if his classmates hear, I am reminded of this. When I realize that he is smarter than I will ever be, I know that he is a blessing and a miracle. And without the blessing, The Boy would not be The Boy. Sure, he would still be my son, but he would not be who he is.
Today is Autism Awareness Day and the month of April is Autism Awareness Month. Please, open your hearts and your minds when you see those Wal-Mart meltdowns. Maybe, just maybe, that family you are passing judgment on is working through Autism.