I went out of town to a conference with a few coworkers. I’ve been in meetings with them before but we have never really talked about our personal lives. But when you’re our of town, it becomes personal quick.
One of my coworkers asked about my kids. The usual, how old are they and things like that. I right away mentioned my son. He has autism and is non verbal. I mentioned my blog and how my goal is to spread awareness.
One of them, right away, maybe in an attempt of trying to make me feel better said, “Autistic people are very smart. Haven’t you seen Rain Man?”.
And everyone chimed in. They started saying how he was able to count all the toothpicks when they fell on the floor and how he was able to count cards in poker. Well, we were staying in Vegas after all.
And I smiled. I thanked them for their attempt in trying to make me feel better. I told them that of course I’d love for my son to speak and for him not to struggle so much with his sensory overloads. But in all honesty, I accept him for who he is. Why would I want his skin color to be different or his eye color to change, if this is who he is? Asking to change him would be like asking for a different child.
And I wouldn’t want that.
I told them in all honesty, my son is severe. His cognitive skills are delayed. He probably won’t ever have the skills like that of Rain Man.
And this conversation quickly went sour. Everyone got quiet. Everyone was uncomfortable. I think because people don’t know how to react to this type of truth.
The thing is, yes he’s nonverbal and the first thing one would notice about him when you meet him is his lack of acknowledgment of the outside world.
But he’s more than that.
He’s caring. If he sees you crying he will try his best to make you feel better with hugs and kisses.
He doesn’t like to leave others behind. When we pick him up from my parents’ house he will force my parents to get in the car with us.
If you spill a drink on the floor, he will run to grab a rag to help you clean it up.
And when we get home, the first thing he wants to do is to bring his doggies inside. He hates it when they stare at us from the back door.
The thing is when one sees past people disabilities, and one takes the time to get to know them, really know them, one can see who they really are.
The beautiful qualities they possess.
But you have to take the time. 💙
Photo credit: Autism. Some Assembly Required