I remember, 4 years ago, when we were waiting for the autism diagnosis, the conflicting feelings I had. The strange fear that something would be changed about my boy, once this autism label would be attached to him. That somehow I would view him differently, and I guess the fear that other people would too. A word can mean so much. A word can be so scary.
It was around this time that I was wearing out my first Hey Rosetta! CD, hard to believe, but a few years ago we still bought CDs. There was a line from a song that I loved. I gave myself the permission to take it completely out of context, because it was so loaded with meaning for me.
/how can you tell me that these beautiful things are holding me back before I even begin?/
That line expressed my fears and dumbfoundment better than I ever could. I knew the label was coming. But moreso, I knew the autism, the differences were already there. It scared me so much. I can think back on myself as that young(er), first time mom, looking into the rearview mirror one day at the drive thru in Tim Horton's, as that line rang out from the stereo, and I was singing along. And it hit me so hard. How could this beautiful little toddler already have obstacles in his path? Why didn't he get the blank slate all children are supposed to start out with? An endless scape of possibility was supposed to be spread out before him. But I knew, that all of the things that made him so amazing and so awe striking, were going to be the same things that would create challenges for him.
These beautiful things.
It was that day, waiting my turn for the coffee I no doubt desperately needed, as I found myself welling up to the words of that song, although I had sung 1000 times before, that I took my first breathe of acceptance. These beautiful things, no matter what we called them, autism, or spunk, they were still beautiful. I looked back at my yellow haired baby, and spoke words I knew he couldn"t yet understand. "It's okay with me if you have autism, Aiden."
And I meant it.
I am okay with him having autism. I am also okay with the choices we have made as a family aong the way. I have come to love autism, but as my love for it grows, so does my hurt and anger at the way some people still view it. They might not always see the beauty, they can be blinded by the diferences Maybe even blinded by the word. They are what can hold a child with autism back, sometimes more than the autism itself.
The other day, somebody posted on facebook, their child had just been diagnosed. They were looking or advice, I guess, in reality, they were simply reaching out. And I was zoomed back into this snapshot in time, speaking the first words of acceptance to my baby. I guess, if I was honest, I think this story is the best advice I could ever give. It's what I wish somebody had said to me.
If you want your child to find acceptance, be the first to accept them. Accept them, and all of their beautiful things.