There’s this bridge in my mind. It is rigid but moves with us. We design it as we go. It is headed where we choose to go. Where?? Well, as my Nanna would say, “I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way!” Today we live in a world where most see Autism as a worry, a problem. Some sort of condition or disease to avoid. People are still trying to “fix” it. People are forcing people with Autism to work so hard to look more like a neurotypical person. Trying to “correct” behaviours. Correct behaviours that are the genius creation of the one struggling to cope. These behaviours or stims that regulate their incredibly powerful responses to all stimuli. Keeping the high tide, low. Or, if seeking and requiring a lot of sensory input, keeping the low tide, high. I don’t want to be THERE….I want to be somewhere new.
I have learned a lot and learned that I will need to keep learning, always. Groups that I initially thought were there to help us celebrate and support people with autism are not. I’ve learned that each person with autism and each parent of a child with autism will have different views on how they see their journey.
Some fully love and accept where they are and the process moving forward. This is their life!! They don’t feel sorry for themselves and they treasure the amazing minds of their children. They are aware of the endless joy from a true and gentle heart. They set up their lives and homes for success. They have a routine, they don’t over schedule, they provide support and guidance so what feels like impossible stuff feels more within the range of possible. They offer kind and patient encouragement to help those who are struggling find the brave confidence within. Then, they have found their own footing on their own road. They know there is so much to learn from this important path. They help each other share the gems that are sometimes hidden beneath. Is it not heartbreaking to think some people are keeping their true selves buried in layers and layers of attempts at “passing”? Passing for what society expects of them.
There are others who aren’t quite sure what to think or do yet. That’s ok! Life is meant to be step by step, not all at once. Change happens when people speak their truths. Change happens when people listen and adjust their thinking if off track. It often comes down to your inner voice. The inner voice that is usually telling you to speak up. To be real. To help other people see it’s ok to be exactly you, to let your children be exactly them. VALUE THE DIFFERENCES!! THEY ARE MEANT TO BE THERE!! THEY ARE NEEDED!! THEY ARE IMPORTANT!!
When you spend your life believing the words and actions of the world, as you live within it, it is startling to realize that your particular path exists perfectly positioned between old and new. That its up to you to create the next step in a new direction. There’s the expected. The traditional. The dusty vision of an overused version. Then there’s this beautiful island of Autism and neurodiversity lit up in neon signs “wanted–happy, peaceful, loving planet..will travel …as long as I can wear my comfy pants, sunglasses and bring my cat”. All of a sudden, you know how important it will be to push the old further and further away. But wait! How can I do that? I can speak proudly of who we are and how we feel and how we experience this world. Maybe all of a sudden that feeling of being on an island, on a planet that doesn’t feel quite right yet, will disappear and that bridge to somewhere new will be created. Maybe it will run parallel with other bridges heading to the same new world of love and acceptance. Maybe just one idea will be heard by one person. Maybe that idea will apply to someone in their lives. Maybe it will help them to appreciate the unique qualities that someone possesses. Maybe they will be excited to see this person they love flapping their hands or jumping wildly. They will know it means they are happy.
We all want to be loved and happy. We all deserve to be loved, exactly how we were made to experience this world. That would make us all happy :-).
What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?