Pieces of the puzzle

2 Apr
Autism Awareness Ribbon, Colorful Puzzle Piece...

Autism Awareness Ribbon

Today is Autism Awareness Day.

This is a cause that is very close to my heart. Throughout my schooling and career, I have had the honor of meeting several children and adults with autism. These people have touched my life in ways I could never fully describe. They have made me better, more compassionate, more understanding, more patient, more human. They have made me smile, laugh, and cry. They have frustrated me, challenged me, changed me. My life is significantly different because of these very special people. I would like to share a few of my stories with you.

My first real experience with someone with autism was in college. J was a beautiful, blonde haired, blue-eyed, little boy with an awesome smile. He did not speak; he knew some sign language. He loved to take his shoes off in the ball pit. He loved to come running up to you with his arms wide open. He loved to try to get out of trouble by giving kisses. I fell in love with this little guy and I knew, from that moment, that children with autism would be one of my passions.

Another child, H, I have known for about 8 years. He also has some academic difficulties that make his life extremely hard. He always has a smile for me though. He is very soft-spoken, and will not be able to speak at all if he is unsure of what you expect or what he is supposed to say. He can be quite bossy, though, if he is in a safe environment, in a situation he is comfortable with. I have had the opportunity to watch him grow up and I look forward to the next several years with him.

K is a feisty, boy-crazy teenage girl. With her recent hormonal changes, she has become quite emotional. She wears her heart on her sleeve, and because she doesn’t fully understand how to deal with all of those emotions, she gets her heart broken easily. She has a fantastic ability to take care of other people if they need it. She loves to be complemented and is very into fashion. She can always be counted on to be dressed in a way that doesn’t follow fashion norms. Her hair has been several different colors. She is very independent, and doesn’t put too much stock into others’ perceptions of her. She is her own person.

S is quickly growing into an adult. He is very interested in other countries, especially Asian ones. I believe he would be so happy traveling the world. Because of his interest in other parts of the world, he has a knowledge base that would qualify him for some national position in foreign relations. He loves to learn new things and is so appreciative of someone who teaches him something new. He is very sweet and full of compliments. He also enjoys video games, computers, and other technological toys. He likes to sing and tell jokes; his personal favorites are inappropriate ones. He brings a smile to anyone lucky enough to know him.

My next story is about a mother, N. Her son has Aspergers and he couldn’t have a better mom for the job. She is his biggest cheerleader and his fiercest defender. She has such high expectations for him, and he knows it, but she never makes him feel like he isn’t enough. She allows him to be himself, and is proud of the young man he is. There are undeniable challenges to raising a child with such a different outlook on life. She never complains. She always has a smile. Because of her ability to handle life with such charisma and grace, she is one of my heroes.

People with autism are often misunderstood. They often stand out in a crowd. They don’t have the social skills to make them fit into mainstream America. They are very literal; they often don’t understand sarcasm or figurative speech. They are different. If you ever have the opportunity to get to know one of these amazing people, don’t judge them. Don’t criticize them. Learn from them. You may learn to see life differently. You may learn to see the world differently. You may learn to see people differently. You may be changed for the better.

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2 Responses to “Pieces of the puzzle”

  1. faithsmomma April 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    You have been called to such a purpose, such a high calling, that so many others don’t understand. I am so proud to call you my friend and so proud of you for the difference you are making in such amazing lives.

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