He hums a tune in his head. He’s miles away.
‘It’s a colourful, vivid world in there, isn’t it?’ My husband says to me.
Autism. I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now but each time I tried something stopped me. Even now the words seem hard to find. I think I wanted to protect Jack. I didn’t think his struggles were mine to share.
But I am seeing more and more that with his struggles come the most incredible inner view; a way of seeing and responding to the world which leaves me in awe. Sights and sounds which go unnoticed by me, I am privileged to experience because of him; because of autism.
Jack has autism.
Autism. I can see the look in people’s eyes now. Oh I am so sorry. That must be so hard for you. Yes Jack cries, a lot. Yes, he struggles with unpredictability. Yes, he is upset by loud noises. Yes, he has difficulty sitting still. Yes, he is a little bit odd and a little bit crazy.
He has many anxieties and fears about being hurt, lost or dying. He needs to be within his comfort zone of not-hungry, not-tired, not-too-cold-or-hot or there is nothing you can do to calm him.
His emotions lay ever so gently below the surface, ready to burst forth at any moment; whether it’s a wail of joy with little arms flapping or a scream of frustration and a slump to the ground. His emotions are always right there.
But it is so much more than that. Autism is beauty. Autism is passion. It’s deep thinking and wonder. It’s being so closely connected with our emotions. It’s processing the world on a whole other plain.
Yes it is hard. But it is oh so wonderful too. Seeing that little mind work. Watching as Jack de-constructs something in his mind, examining every piece of the puzzle, then putting it back together again in his own unique way; spreads light and joy and knowledge on all of us. We are seeing and feeling and hearing the world differently because of him.
Jack is teaching us compassion and patience. He is teaching us to look beyond our own preconceptions of what should be and instead to really see what is. He is teaching us to slow down and think; to be mindful, to be present.
Autism is not a disability or something to be pitied.
Autism is a gift if we choose to see it. A gift which opens our eyes to new wonders and teaches us to be better people.
Autism is one part of what makes Jack so incredibly special.
How could I not be thankful for that?