For Autism Awareness day Rick and I took the day off work so we could have a family day. We took Elliot and Orbit on one of our favorite walks -- the San Clemente Beach Trail. We were not more than 200 yards into it when a runner said something to us as he ran by. I asked Rick what he said because I hadn't heard him. "You all sure look happy," Rick repeated. I thought to myself, "Of course… Look at this day, look at this view. I am with my family and I am so proud of both my boys" (pictured above).
Later in the day, I took a moment to re-live our amazing morning in my mind and relish in it. As I did this, it also jarred some disturbing contrast. But, I think for good reason. I recalled a time I would not have chosen happiness on this glorious walk. The old me would have been focused on the fact that every time we heard a child scream with glee or a dog bark, we would have to stop so Elliot could cover his ears and scream "LOUD, LOUD, LOUD!!! I would also have been annoyed that Elliot is never quiet… if he is not screaming "LOUD, LOUD, LOUD" then he is making continuous humming grunting sounds; and if not that, then he is scripting lines from movies and tv shows over and over and over. When we tell him he can't swim at the beach this time because the ocean is too cold (57 degrees) and he refuses to wear a wet suit, he whines and cries repeating, "Thomas O'Malley is sad" for the next 10 minutes. The old me would also have conjured up some hatred for the developmental pediatrician who diagnosed Elliot at age 2 as "mild" with a prognosis of losing this diagnosis by age 4. This anger would have been fueled by the fact that he is 12 and now most likely "mod to severe".
But WHEW! thank goodness that is the old me! And even though I can still easily recall the negative presence of the old me - even though I left her somewhere back on another trail some years ago - it only makes me more grateful for her absence now because it is a glorious day, I am smiling ear to ear and I am full of love!
So with these reflections, I would like to make this wish on Autism Awareness Day ... I wish all parents, especially those with children on the spectrum, to know that there is happiness to be found -- if you look for it. And there can be joy in your life -- if you look for it. After all...
"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
Thank you, my dear Elliot.