A Bridge

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 :-).

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What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?
George Eliot

 

 

 

 

 

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Enough

 

I don’t want to read one more article on what causes autism and what might cure it.  I also don’t particularly like reading about ways to help your child “fit in”.  The world is made up of many people who see, feel, and think differently.  We need to start being ok with a world that doesn’t look and do things one way.  We might be ok to see someone jumping on the spot because it calms them.  We might recognize that someone needs to chill and be alone and that doesn’t mean they are mean or that they are angry with you.  We might not call someone lazy because they don’t want to jump from their school day to another activity or don’t like to partake in certain events.  Taking in your sensory world like a herd of galloping clydesdales is exhausting!  Trust me!  Let them focus on the things they love..help them find confidence in doing things that use their natural talents and bring them peace!  That way, their precious stores of incredible, abundant or limited, energy will be used in the best way!

We might not laugh about someone who speaks awkwardly because we would know it’s just because their mind is going 1000 miles a minute and they can’t instinctively find the right words at the right times.  We think and speak and wonder and rearrange and worry and visualize all in the same moment.  We wouldn’t freak out over a meltdown in public because, hey, being out in public is a touch tortuous.  Being with people who don’t know how and why it is, makes it even more painful.  Like being the only one who can see a tornado coming, nobody else is sweating and screaming and when it is over your little house is the only thing that got blown over and everyone is looking at you….then you retreat into solitude to feel confused but also feel happy that you’re now alone.

We would start making things easier for each other instead of trying to chop down a person’s strongest roots.  Eliminate the undesirable behaviours….grrrr hate that term.  Here’s the thing…if you give me a chance to breathe and step back and close a door, I can do so much more than if you downplay my emotions or remove comfort zones or routines.

You can’t just say “oh we make him/her do this/that because autism doesn’t rule our life”  I just cringe anytime I hear people talk like that because that sounds like they are disregarding the difficulty their loved one has with certain outings or situations. You actually DO need to adjust your life a little.  Great things come from gentle, loving encouragement.   And allowing time for our minds to get wrapped around whatever it is your wishing us to do.  I like a start time, an end time, break time, and the ability to be comfortable wherever it is we are headed.  I might agree to lunch out, but I don’t want to sit at a table by the line up waiting to be seated or in the path of the glaring offensive sun beaming through a curtain-less window.   You wouldn’t pour a 10 kg bag of flour into a teacup.  Or put a lovely dinner salad in the blender.  Why would you do that to your beautiful salad?  I’d much rather let my salad be a salad and let my smoothie enjoy the blender.  One simple step back can give someone struggling the power to move 100 steps forward.  Trust me on this.  Enough.

If you know someone who has autism, know that they’re doing the very best they can at every possible moment.  It’s the only way they know. If you are able to help someone get through their day a little easier you can then see just how super fabulously smart, dedicated and kind they are.

When someone sees their path ahead full of scary beasts, and they know they have to get through it no matter what they go in cringing and screaming and waiting for pain.  Torture.  Then guess what?  They get to look forward to a replay every day of their life.  Enough.   I grew up with all kinds of sensory issues that I worked at 100%, 24/7 just to “fit in”.  That fitting in felt like fighting the beasts.  I still have to work at it every day.  I have a husband who recognizes when I’m struggling and does his best to protect me from the big scary world hahha.  He finds me secret hidden passages all the time.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.  He makes me feel that I’m enough just as I am.

Why can’t it become typical to see a group, some looking each other in the eye…some looking anywhere but. Some polished, some fidgety, some with a bouncy leg, some humming, some sounding all together and completely calm.  What if some kind soul opened a side door where the beasts couldn’t fit…and they could go along with their day free of pain, feeling safe all while knowing they had a friend.  That sounds nice right?  And logical too?

It can be as simple as:

Turning down your music.

Forgetting about eye contact.

Closing a blind.

Letting someone sit in the chair they always sit in.

Allowing a chill out for 5 min.

Stop talking so much.

Give someone time to absorb new info and see it clearly anyway they need, whether through visuals or just extra time to think it through before demanding input or decisions.

Don’t be offended if they don’t want to eat lunch with you or get together later.  They may have had all they can take just with the basics of life never mind adding in extras.

These sound like small and fair things for anyone no matter who they are doesn’t it?

My son is here for a reason.  He is who he is for a reason.  He doesn’t need to change anything.  He will continue to work and grow and learn just like the rest of us.  But I’m never going to try to stop him from being 100% Max.  He has helped me to understand myself.  What an incredible thing to do!