In life, let’s first get this out in the open and admit, there are a lot of people who really love vanilla.
Plain vanilla. No toppings, no swirls, no syrups or hot fudge, no nuts, and, by all means…believe it or not, no whipped cream. That is the way it is. Just vanilla please. That is who they are. They cannot help it. They are not necessarily bad people. They simply have not opened themselves up to the radiant world around them…yet.
Of course I have never been a vanilla girl. I will take chocolate, coffee, mint ‘n’ chip, butter brickle, chocolate triple fudge brownie, mango swirl, you name it. Anything but vanilla for me.
When it comes to life and autism, iridescence is a lot like vanilla. It is not for everyone. Believe it or not, some people just want the vanilla version of children and life. The vanilla people will never quite appreciate anything other than their beloved, simple vanilla. Vanilla people, in their want for conformity and consistency, will never embrace or appreciate the iridescence of autism.
Although some of us adore iridescence and sparkle, others do not and that is okay. Be aware of the vanilla people, know they are out there, know they will never change and just let them go. The non-iridescent-vanilla people will not love the spectrum, challenges, differences or disabilities, nor will they appreciate the crazy wonderful pieces of life a non-vanilla dance can bring. We all know that in order to retain the unique quality that is iridescence, it has to be sparse to be appreciated. Too much is just too much and that is why the vanilla people have their place. They have to be here in order to make the iridescent child so spectacular. If everyone appreciated iridescence, it would probably become common place, it would cease to be unique and would then become, well, vanilla. Thankfully, we are not in that place and vanilla has not taken over. The vanilla people still hold their place, they push iridescence away and that keeps the world in balance.
And, it is good that it is sparse because, truthfully, not everyone could handle complete iridescence. It’s odd, it’s quirky, it’s definitely hard to define and it kind of sparkles indefinitely. Not everyone likes their world all bright and shiny and reflective. It can get old and tiring to see reflective all the time. It truly takes a remarkable person and a savvy eye to appreciate the iridescence of autism. Not everyone chooses it and that is not surprising.
Iridescence is a lot like Autism. When you look at autism head on, it can be overwhelming too. There are a lot of unknowns, it’s scary, it’s hard to know where it will take you. It is so difficult to figure out sometimes that it can make some people want to look away. It can even make some want to walk away all together before they even try to figure it out. Some things are hard to look at head on.
A life with autism can be one of those things.
Sometimes it’s easier if you look at it from an angle with a partial view, one day at a time with deep breaths in between. That is the advice I give most parents when they ask me what they should do. Just breathe and don’t get ahead of yourself. Today, concentrate on today. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Worrying about what might happen next week or next year or six years from now will serve no purpose and will not make anyone’s life more peaceful or more accomplished. If you have plans next week or next month, pencil them in but, otherwise, don’t fret. Just breathe deeply and often.
And, because this is about real life, I have to admit this lesson was a hard one for me to learn. I am by nature a worrier and a fretter. Thankfully, autism and this life have taught me some good life lessons and coping skills. I suggest you practice and learn this lesson with more ease than I did. I can see it in new parents who are just starting their journey and I recognize it is how I used to be. I also know from hard fought experience that all the worrying in the world did not change a thing. Working hard, breathing deeply and taking one step at a time made the real difference in our world. These days, when I feel the squeeze of the anxiety swelling in my chest, I have to stop what I am doing, break it down into small pieces and take a deep breath. I do this because I know that in small pieces I can do anything I set my mind to. But if I let too much crowd me all at once, I certainly get overwhelmed.
So, forget about the vanilla people who don’t see the radiance or appreciate the iridescence. Just breathe deeply, take life’s challenges one day and one single step at a time and know you will get through all of this. Some days you will even get through it with radiance, enthusiasm and great love for the blessings autism has shared with you. Honest. And, just like with iridescence, if you look at it from a different view, a different angle, and if you look close, autism can afford you glimpses of greatness in a magnitude that hasn’t yet been seen.
That is how I feel some days. (Of course, not on the fall apart days because the fall apart days WIPE ME OUT.)
Some days, his autism is like an iridescent radiance…he literally shines in my life and the radiance sparkles before my eyes. Sometimes the radiance is bright enough to let me see just a glimmer of what he is seeing and that is the essence of the joy and love he shares with me. That is exactly why I love autism so much. It changes me and it thrills me and, some days I am able to breathe in his radiant iridescence and it makes me momentarily glow inside too. I suppose it can be said that my boy brought “glow” to my life.
And, like with iridescence, as the light changes and the child grows, autism grows and changes as well. Not every moment is brightened with iridescence but that’s okay too. Embrace the ones that sparkle and know on the fall apart days that the sparkle will come back and is probably just around the corner. I am so thankful for the iridescence he sprinkles into my life…the one thing I never knew I wanted but am so thankful I have.