I spent so much time trying to teach PJ (usually without success) that it finally dawned on me what he was teaching me. He may have taught me more than I have taught him. What was important to me was not what was important to him ( reading, writing, talking). What was important to him was what he was interested in learning (cooking, art, skating). When we followed his interests, we had more success.
Cooking is not something I would have tried to teach him, but he watched me in the kitchen enough to learn how to cook his own fries, sausage, hot dogs, corn on the cob, etc Of course, he didn’t ask for permission, or he would never have been allowed to use the stove. One day, he just started cooking on his own. He had a few mishaps in the beginning by overcooking things, but he kept at it and now is mostly independent when it comes to cooking what he likes. He is not much interested in cooking or eating anything green, unfortunately, but I have learned to accept his interest in cooking and to let him do things his way. This is one of the things that has made our life easier.
Another thing I have learned from PJ is about unconditional love. He loves me no matter what I am wearing, how my hair looks, whether or not I’ve had a shower, whether or not I cook or clean house. He holds my arms, looks me in the eyes and gives me such a look of love that it always surprises me. From a person who would give no eye contact to him looking me in the eyes with a big smile lets me know how far we have come.
I had to learn to love him unconditionally. I admit that I didn’t always feel love for him, but I tried not to let him know it. We can’t help our feelings, we can only help what we do about our feelings. I thought that PJ would never love me back, but I kept trying to love him anyhow. In his book, “The Greatest Miracle In The World”, Og Mandino says of love, “Love is a gift on which no return is demanded. To love for fulfillment, satisfaction or pride is no love. If love is not returned, it will flow back to you and soften and purify your heart”. I read this over and over and it always uplifted me. What a beautiful statement about love!
In his book, “The Prophet”, Kahlil Gibran says that, “as love is for your growth, it is also for your pruning”. In her book, “In the Spirit”, Susan Taylor says that the more unlovable a person is being, the more in need of love he or she is. These are some of the authors who helped me to accept my situation and learn to love my son. I also mention them as some of my heroes in “Inspired By Autism”.
I read somewhere that people can feel it when love is being sent in their direction. One day when I said “I love you” to PJ, his bowed down head lifted up, his eyes closed and a look of peace replaced the look of misery on his face. I could actually see him receive the love. Another learning experience for me. I’ve heard that when you don’t get what you want, you get a learning experience. What a learning experience autism has been for me!
Until next time; May you have Peace, Love, and Prosperity in your life.