Seeking the Gifts in Autism

“I’ll tell the world, I’ll sing a song
It’s a better place since you came along
Since you came along. ” Rachel Platten

Do I view autism a gift?

Initially my response in my gut was, “Umm, No.” The voice in my head screamed,  “I think the fact that you ask me that shows you really have no idea what’s going on in our lives.”

I find I struggle because I am pushed to do two things: 1 accept LittleOne as he is and view autism as a gift that makes him special and 2 do everything short of brain transplant (vitamins, oils, diets, therapy, stem cells abroad, hyperbaric chambers…. the list goes on.) to fix him. Every single day we (autism moms) get this push/pull and pretty harsh judgments based on our path. In my heart, I know we can do both! It is possible to love and accept a child exactly how and where he is and to continue to seek improvement. 

Back to the question… is this all a gift?  I know where the notion comes from. In all the push to accept and understand, people want to view this as something brighter and eccentric- to see my kid as a savant with a streak of brilliance who sees the world differently marching to his own drum. If we are supposed to accept it, then it must be pretty – different and quirky maybe but wrapped up with a bow. It’s not. That’s not what autism is, not even for the high functioning.

Yes, we may make it look easier than others struggling with potty training or being nonverbal or severe co-morbidities. On the surface it seems like LittleOne is simply off beat and autism is some idiosyncrasy he was handed from a higher power, but it’s not that easy. Not for me and certainly not for him. 

I know my faith calls me to accept it all – to rejoice in the rain along with the sun, to follow our path and know He’s working it all for our good. In retrospect maybe we can look back on all challenges as “gifts”, that whole bit about coming out on the other side better, stronger, more resilient. I’m not there yet.

I can and do view all the unintended consequences and silver linings as gifts.  I’m a better parent for it. I’m stronger, kinder, more patient for it. I see the world differently. I trust less in general and have a tighter inner circle. My son has brought untold joy to me. I realigned my life, career, state of residence. I have become a woman of unwavering faith. These are our gifts.

LittleOne out casually making my world a better place.

I’m sure in time, when my Little One looks back he will see autism gave him strength and perspective and hopefully other gifts. When he is out of the thick of it, I pray he too is able to see the gifts he found within the struggle. 

In that spirit, I view it as my job to find all the wonders along the way so he knows they are there to be found. I pour affirmation into him every time I can. I point out the positives and the happiness. I literally whisper these truths in his ear. I create a world where I seek and find happiness daily so that he can too. 

Would I waive a wand and take all this away and have him have an easier, understandable path through life?  Yep. Without hesitation. Yes, I would take autism away in a second and never once feel remorseful.

I think most of us would; that’s why we read studies until 2 am, give up gluten and embrace speech therapy. We fight daily. We fight to remove their struggles. We fight to understand.  We fight to create a world they are safe it. We fight to take our child back from this diagnosis. 

Yes, in this there is magic and joy, some of which are owed to our autism experience.  I don’t yet think autism itself is a gift, and I’m not sure I ever will.  But it has given us some things we treasure. Mostly it’s part of the child who is my life’s brightest gift. 

P.S. If you haven’t listened to Rachel Platten sing Better Place grab a tissue and do it now.

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