Day #276 – The Bridge

Yesterday I read a great post on one of my favorite sites, The Mighty. It was written by a mom and entitled, ‘Don’t Forget About ‘Our’ Autism.

I loved the entry.  It was about her son who has classic autism (and their experience).

the kind that used to be the only face of autism half a century ago, is the one who does not belong now. We do not have a home in the real world, where children smile and make friends and answer questions. And we do not often have a home in the community of autism, where the children are almost always higher functioning. Where the children can speak or kiss or hug. Where the children are not quite normal, but not immediately recognized as wholly abnormal.

Now, autism is the quirky kid in the classroom who interrupts a lesson with his incessant talk about world capitals. Autism is the girl who can’t understand the gum-snapping sarcasm of her peers. Autism is Rain Man, with his barely-but-functional speech and misunderstanding of nuances, his bright and amazing understanding of facts, dates and places.”

What she writes is incredibly important.  A couple of months ago I asked seven moms to write about their children – these children fall everywhere on the spectrum.

Brandon
Isaac and Noah
Carter
Garrett
Kathy
Michael

The spectrum is deep and wide and while you read this blog I need you to remember that this is simply one story.  One family’s story.  That one family happens to be my family.

There are actually moments that I don’t think Tucker is ‘autistic enough’ to even write this blog – but then I remember how far we have come.  I remember the rocking, the scripting, the outbursts.  Then it comes roaring back in full force, back to physical therapy we go.

We don’t have as many social difficulties anymore, but I believe that has to do with advocacy.   Our friends and family know about Tucker.  Tucker’s friends and their families know about Tucker.  All of the people in Tucker’s community work at getting him, including him, and I happen to believe –  love him unconditionally.  Why?  Because they know.

The only time we have social difficulties with Tucker is when he is introduced to new people. People we haven’t told, people who don’t know…therefore people who often lack (through no fault of their own) the understanding and compassion necessary to foster relationship building and general happiness.

People like the check-out person at Hobby Lobby on Wednesday.  As we are standing in line to check out Tucker is telling her how he put a $10 bill in a pop machine earlier in the day…and how he has a billion quarters…and how he needs them changed to dollars…and while she has that machine open why can’t she do that…and…and…and.  All the while she simply stared at him, not really knowing what to do or say because he wasn’t following social norms of conversation.

Last week at a birthday party I was talking to a fellow mom.  She was telling me about her own experiences with special needs folks in her family – so she is particularly sensitive to inclusion. She was telling me about asking her son about Tucker.  Her son responded, “I don’t know what the big deal is, everyone likes Tucker.”

I told her that was the second time I heard that in less than a month.  It’s probably true…most of his peers do like him and are friendly towards him.  But – there is a big difference in being friendly and being friends.    She agreed and we proceeded to have a great conversation about how he has helped bring awareness, understanding, and acceptance during a pretty tumultuous time in human growth and development.

She then said – ‘I think of him like a bridge.’

IMG_3024

Yes, humans SHOULD just accept and love each other – unfortunately, it’s just not the way it works (at least most of the time).

Sometimes we need a nudge. Sometimes we just need to dip our toe in the water.  Sometimes we need a sip or a sample.

He’s the gateway, or the bridge, that can lead to a greater understanding.  Many of us can ‘get’ him – and I believe this leads to a greater understanding of the spectrum in general.  His version of autism is easily recognizable within ourselves.

As I talked over this post with my husband and what I was trying to get across he said, “I get it.  Taking a chance on Tuck leads you to become more emotionally aware of other people’s challenges.  I now look at other kids different and try to understand their stories.  It’s like he’s a domino.  If you can ‘get’ Tuck…then maybe the next kid…and the next kid…and the next kid.  It’s allows for greater acceptance which leads to greater inclusion.’

Yeah…that’s what I was trying to say.

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4 thoughts on “Day #276 – The Bridge

  1. Pingback: Day #279 – Tucker’s Version of Autism | 366 Days of Autism

  2. Pingback: Day #327 – Indexing | 366 Days of Autism

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