I mentioned that once I learned how to accept PJ’s interests that living with him became easier. I also mentioned learning about unconditional love from PJ. From him, I’ve learned about purity in a person. PJ does not lie, cheat or steal. (He does sneak, though). He throws away food that he doesn’t want to eat when I am not looking. He also pours juice that he doesn’t like down the drain.
Something else that I’ve learned from PJ is how to tune things out. Many times, his jumping and flapping his hands were an attempt to tune out whatever was going on around him. It used to be extremely hard for me to tune anything out, but I have learned that everything and everyone is not worth my full attention. It is especially helpful to tune out the rude, hurtful stares and comments that we used to get when we were in public. I hope that parents have it better now when they are in public with their children. Now that there are more children with autism, I hope there are less stares and comments.
PJ lives in the moment. He is not depressed about the past or worried about the future. I can’t always live in the moment like he does, but I do try to relax and enjoy the moment when I can. I also try to plan some pleasant moments because they are hard to come by when you live with a person handicapped by autism. Sometimes, you can’t enjoy a pleasant moment because you are too stressed out or worried about what will happen next. I still struggle with that, but I am learning because living in the present can be a survival strategy and a stress management technique.
I’ve learned that we are all one accident or illness away from a disability. In fact a developmental disability is one that a person is born with as opposed to one that happened because of accident or illness. This fact helps me to be more careful and to take better care of myself because I know that accidents can happen.
I’ve learned to quit apologizing for PJ’s existence. I gave him birth, but God gave him life, so he is entitled to his little space on the planet just like the rest of us. In his book, The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran says,”Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come “through” you but not “from” you. You can give them your love, but you cannot give them your thoughts”. This is especially important for us to remember when we have a child with autism or any other disability.
I’d thought I was “grown” when PJ came along. Because of autism, I’ve learned that we have to continue to grow. I read somewhere that God might not remove the irritation, but He’ll help you grow so that it doesn’t bother you as much. That’s how pearls are formed.
Something to consider, “All our failures, disappointments, heartaches and defeats were the soil in which we were planted in order to ripen. (I am Ripe!) Our tears were the rainfall. Our smiles were the sunshine. The ____ we have taken from others is our fertilizer”. I don’t know where I read that quote, but it seems appropriate.
Until next time; May God give you the strength to carry on.