Saturday, October 20, 2018

Shine the Light on Autism

Welcome to AuSumness.

I'd like to share another story with you in hopes of shedding a little light, insight and perhaps lift your soul.  Parents who have Autistic kids need all of the soul lifting they can get, right?

Recently, JJ started karate.  We are over the moon and we've never seen JJ so enthusiastic about sport.  10 visits in and he still is crazy about karate.  We're fortunate enough that one of the trainers is even educated with special needs courses.

I have one of those over enthusiastic, extremely happy to see someone they know, fervent wavers.  "Hi!"  JJ shouts.  Then he turns to me and explains how he knows this person, but didn't know their name.  He does this with just as much excitement.

As it often occurs, the person to whom JJ is addressing completely ignores him.  So, he tries again to get a wave or acknowledgement.  "Hi!  I know you from karate.  Hi!"  In the typical fashion, the child turns around grudgingly and gives the weakest of smiles and is quick to advert their attention back to anything, but my child.

JJ with less enthusiasm says, "She didn't say anything?" The sparkle now gone from his beautiful, now sad eyes, face still flush from the warm gym and night's exercises.  My heart sinks to it's familiar low place and I turn and give him a princesse's smile filled with warmth and Disney magic and say, "Oh, no.  She turned and smiled at you, JJ.  That's just another way to say hi.  It means the same thing."  Then I tightened my already loving grasp I had him in and kiss his forehead.

As we all know, the world can be a very cruel and cold place, but it can also be fun, loving and full of joy and generosity.  As in the example I just shared.  I reminded JJ of the bright side with a warm heartfelt explanation and loving cuddle and kiss. It is these perhaps more rare, but shining moments that we need to focus on and it is essential that we teach our children, through example to focus on these moments.

Equally important, we cannot let other's bad attitudes bring us down.  It's not always easy finding the silver lining, but it is always there.  I've begun making it a point, to enthusiastically greet people.  Especially, ones I don't know.  I started greeting people as if I've known them forever.  Offering a warm, heartfelt smile and the friendliest of friendly, "hello's".

The reactions have been mixed.  Mostly, I receive nothing in return.  Occasionally, I get a sideways glance with an incredulous look from the corner of an eye.  Rarely is a smile received, but even less rare is a look of matched enthusiasm!  A warm, almost relieving look of appreciation.  Their eyes tell me, "Thank you so much for acknowledging my existence."

I'll tell you what.  I will go through dozens of those not so positive reactions for just one of appreciation and thanks.  My heart will lift, as will their's and the world, if only for a moment will be in a good place, again.  I'll not let it bring me down if I'm ignored.  It will further encourage me.

I explained to JJ several times that everyone is different.  Not everyone is flowing with joy, happiness and delight.  Bummer, right?!  We should never let someone's darkness steal our light.  We don't wish to join them in their sad abyss.  We need not question why they are as they are.  We might feel a touch sad for THEM, but certainly feel no sorrow for ourselves.  Keep smiling.  Keep spreading the light.  Especially, in the darkest of storms.

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