The truth is, I never really knew where autism would take us. I heard the word, ignored the word, denied the word and then, in a moment when I was not looking and guarding my fences, the word fell into me and it became a layer of my life. These days, autism is simply a part of my life, my being and the air I breathe. And, seriously…don’t get me wrong, autism is not a billboard I carry like a necklace sitting centered on my chest. I do not allow autism to be bartered about like an excuse for my child. Autism is simply a part of our canvas and a layer of our foundation. In the end, after twelve years, I am nothing, if not an autism warrior.
I liken autism to a sporting event and every week is its own game. Every day is an inning. There are seven innings to a game and 52 games in a year. Every week demands you work your hardest and give it your all. At the end of the week, when the game is over, it’s over but it’s not the end of the world. If you lose or if you win, suck it up and move on. And, especially if you win, don’t get cocky because life changes from minute to minute, day to day, week to week and certainly year to year. Sometimes you’re the winshield, sometimes you’re the bug. Another game begins on Monday morning.
The most interesting part of the sport of autism that is different from other sports is the season is long. The season begins on January 1st and ends December 31st. New Year’s Eve is the last day of the Autism season…so celebrate. Let me just say this IS a sporting event and it’s a lifestyle where looking back is allowed…and encouraged. Sometimes, with autism, the advances come in quietly. It isn’t a banner selling day on Wall Street that will show up with bells and whistles in your bank account. Autism is quiet progress. Looking back over the year, and years past, is sometimes the only way you really can see how very far you have come.
For New Year’s Eve at our house, we have milkshakes, Chinese food, we see who can stay up until midnight and we make our family scrapbook to document and celebrate our year. All in all, we look back. It helps me because sometimes when I look at him today I only see today. I even forget who we used to be six todays before…much less six or ten months prior. When I sit down on New Year’s Eve and I look at all my pictures, I remember where we have been emotionally, academically, behaviorally and physically. I remember where the year’s journey has taken us. Journaling along with all the pictures would even be better but I don’t have the time or energy for that. If you do…Oh I so commend you! I just personally don’t. With three children, one dog, one cat and a man that I absolutely adore and want to spend every moment with…I just don’t have time for much more than putting pictures in slots. And, then we wait, for the morning to come and the year to reset and the game to begin again…fresh and new.