“Let not your heart be troubled, Neither let it be afraid”. John 14:27
Words of comfort that have seen me through many a troubling situation with Pervis Jr. When you are the parent of a child with autism or any other disability, there are going to be troubling situations. When Pervis Jr was younger, I was full of fear and anxiety about his condition and his future, so I was always looking for comfort. I was also comforted by the words of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, “The only force more powerful than fear is faith. When you feel fear, counter it with an affirmation of faith.” This has been one of my guiding principles during my autism journey.
But I do have to face reality. One of Pervis’ realities is that he is a large, intimidating looking black man who can not talk. In light of some of the situations that have happened, I know that he is a perfect candidate for what has happened to other black youth. If you just look at his appearance, you might not think that he has a handicap. He has learned to control most of his challenging behaviors, but can still be unpredictable. When he was younger, he had many behaviors that would get him shot today if he were alone in the community.
He is so well protected, that he is safe because he is never alone in the community so I don’t have that concern, or do I?.
One day, my doorbell rang and I answered it to see a woman standing on my porch talking on her cell phone. I waited for her to finish her call, but wondered what she wanted. It turns out that Pervis Jr had left the house and was walking on the next block. He was barefoot and in pajamas. She had started questioning him and of course, he did not answer. So she called the police to make a report. However, her questions did cause him to come back home and slip in the side door from which he had left. She had followed him to see where he was going.
I knew none of this. Her cell phone call was to cancel the police report. When she informed me of where she had seen him, my thought was that he couldn’t have gotten that far since I had only been upstairs in the bathroom for a couple of minutes. I thanked her for looking out for him but wasn’t sure that she was right about his being that far away. We talked about how to make police aware of people with my son’s condition and I promised to keep a better eye on him. That’s why I say it could be me. My situation could have turned out much differently and I could have been one of the mothers crying to the TV cameras and saying that my son did not deserve to be shot.
The next time that I went upstairs, I was watching to see if he would slip out of the house. He did, but this time I was aware and I was following him. He was down the block, around the corner and on the next block in less than a minute. So now, I knew that he could go that far that fast. He moves very fast when he gets going. I followed him to the corner where he was starting to cross the street even though the light was red.
I called his name and he stopped, surprised to see me. I brought him back home, but now, here was a new worry. Pervis Jr, alone in the community. He was starting to slip out whenever he thought I was busy upstairs. (And they say that autistic people don’t sneak). I finally had a doorbell installed that would ring whenever the door was opened from inside. When I would hear the bell and catch him trying to sneak out of the house, he did have the decency to look guilty, but he stopped this behavior.
They say that you can either worry, or you can pray, but don’t do both. I have chosen to pray, because I have spent too much time with worry.
May the love of God enfold you. May the power of God protect you.