Whether I’m in an IEP meeting or a doctor’s office, hearing my son’s name and autism in the same sentence never sits well with me. It’s not easy hearing about what I see everyday. I feel there’s no need for a repeat of something I am well aware of. But I do listen, knowing there’s not a period after autism unless we put one there. Callie’s not defined by the diagnosis or his struggles. Nor is he defined by the questionable day to day and future that seems to be reiterated when sitting across from individuals who see no further than the black and white printed before them. Similar is prejudgment from people who do not know my son at all. At a glance, he’s immediately boxed into “weird”, “sick”, “pity” or “misbehaved” without reading one page of our story. In both instances, all one sees is the outer. Beyond that, everything is blurry or goes dark. Some people don’t want to take the time to get to know a person on the spectrum….not even to make an acquaintance. They equate autism with meaning “no ability” and no hope. I realize that seeing a person with a different normal than yourself can be intimidating, especially when the “what’s wrong” is something you are unfamiliar with. For others, seeing past it is a challenge, particularly when hope has been a lost art in chapters of their own book. They see accomplishments (big or small) as merely something that just happened and not stepping stones forward that we should expect or bank on. But even though my son’s name and autism appears to go hand in hand, no matter if the dialogue is with me or in my peripheral, I see a silent conversation going on represented by people’s fixated eyes on my son, I know who my son is. He’s absolutely amazing! And yes, our breaking moments come and go, but that does not change nor erase the incredible gift he is. It only validates the star of endurance in him and further allows him to come out shining beyond the unlit all around him.
Thanks for listening,