We're pleased to once again have Shirley as our Guest Blogger on InScribe Writers Online.
Recently we commemorated World Autism Month, and I would like to share a family experience and how God put it all into perspective!
As we stroll around our local ‘arena walking track’ tonight, a hockey game plays below. We listen to cheers and music and watch boys our son Joe’s age, win against the visiting team. The noise is too loud for Joe, so he puts on his large red headphones. (Unfortunately these are the only ones he can wear). Everyone notices him as we walk around the track; especially other teenage boys. They watch as he comes around to their side of the arena; waiting, it seems for a chance to get him alone and tease him for looking different. This would not the first time Joe might be teased/bullied on this track, at school, or in our community.
Joe doesn’t have to wear headphones to get attention as he walks. Though he is fifteen, he walks like a younger child. He skips along, humming, or reciting movies along the way. Joe is different from other teenage boys his age; different because our dear son Joseph has autism.
Sometimes reality catches up with me as we walk around the track and through life. The reality that our son IS not normal, as other boys his age. Without autism he could be playing with the hockey team; but instead he walks friendless along the track with us.
It brings a tear to my eye as I compare Joe with the other boys as we walk, noticing stares toward him (regardless of headphones), knowing that he is so easily victimized, and being very aware of our huge lifelong responsibility. As I ponder this, these thoughts soon give way, to thoughts of how very special Joe is, regardless of his differences, and how God has given us so much love for him!
I recall how he can quickly recite information on history, movies and most animals and dinosaurs! He is compassionate, innocent, honest and funny. Joe is an awesome artist and wants to become an animation film producer someday. Joe is Joe all day long; he doesn’t play emotional games. He truly is who he is. This is so refreshing in today’s society.
Joe doesn’t skate or do well on a team. He’d rather do things alone or with a few others. His sensitivities make it difficult for him to live in today’s world; though live in it he must. He is doing his best to adapt to a world that is ‘too noisy, too bright and too overwhelming’ for him. He will navigate the world differently than most of us, but with help and love, he will be ALL THAT HE CAN BE someday. Thank God, that is enough, regardless of what the world says. Joe will never be another ‘Wayne Gretzky' but neither will those boys ever have a fantastic mind for memory or detail that Joe has. When I review the differences, though disturbing at first, then interesting, I realize that Joe and each of these boys have different gifts, abilities and purposes; very special and unique paths for each one.
Sometimes I struggle accepting Joe’s special needs, but mostly, I rejoice in his special abilities and how well he is doing. I can see that God has a special purpose for Joe, the boy’s hockey team, the hecklers and for all of us. We are all ‘a work in progress’. May we all accept, appreciate and be patient with the unique process each one of us goes through in life, special needs or not! (See Jeremiah 29:11-13)