I have been thinking about how often kids with autism are misunderstood. Either their pronouns are reversed or language a bit jumbled or not there at all. Maybe their behavior seems nonsensical, or uncontrolled.
Those who work with kids on the spectrum say that no one can really understand what they are thinking, especially those who are nonverbal.
There is a lot of speculation in why they do what they do which leaves room for even more misunderstandings.
I have also been thinking about how I have been misunderstood in regards to my kids with autism. We have been told many things over the years like:
"You are being too strict, let them be kids!"
"You are too lenient, you need to be more strict!"
"Why haven't you done this or that intervention or diet?"
Or, the hardest to hear, "Maybe you should send him to a group home?"
Sometimes telling about the behaviors we see at home doesn't translate accurately with words. When we show the social stories we've created about an issue, even ones we've discussed extensively, we have heard:
"He does THAT?"
And we are left baffled: what did they think we meant?
Misunderstandings are a part of life. However, these days we have social media that allows misunderstandings to abound even more.
We see tiny snippets of others lives posted on Facebook, or Twitter, or on a blog and we make assumption of what peoples lives must be like.
But that isn't the full story.
The full story can't be known until you are IN the story-- in real life. Until you see the story in action day after day, you can not begin to know. Even then, you can't completely understand.
All we can do is continue to try to explain, continue to teach, reveal our lives, and forge ahead. And most of all, pray for interpretation!
For those of us who avoid conflict like the plague, misunderstandings cause extreme stress. When they result in relationships being hurt, the stress is akin to a volcanic eruptions of the heart. The hot lava runs through our veins making every fiber feel the pain of the broken relationship.
I am one of these people-pleasing, conflict avoiding people who just wants everyone to get along and understand each other. So when my world is filled more full with conflict, I am pressed to learn better how to cope:
How to keep on teaching about my kids and autism, regardless.
How to keep pressing on, anyway.
How to be authentic, nevertheless.
How to extend abundant grace, in spite of it all.
How can I expect others to understand something as puzzling and complex as a child with moderate to severe autism, ADHD, and anxiety?
How can I expect to be completely understood by another?
With these thoughts on my mind this past Sunday, I was listening to Matt Redman's Your Grace Finds Me. The lyrics were still swimming in my head as I entered church and we sang one of my favorites, Just As I Am, by Travis Cottrell. (Click the links for YouTube videos.)
I love it when this happens: when lyrics merge in the dizzying highway that my mind can sometimes be, and collide into a deeper meaning... a meaning for the immediate.
"Just as I am" means being 100% completely understood.
To be known just as I am?
Only God can do that--and Grace finds me there.
My kids being understood, just as they are?
Only God can do that--and Grace finds them there.
Understanding someone else just as they are?
Only God can do that, but I can pray for understanding.
So as I continue to press on in the tasks set before me, I extend the Grace that found me.
Through Christ, I can do that.
The challenge is to continue trying.
Striving to understand each other, and to be understood, offering grace along the way.
Offering praise to God, too, because He made us all so unique, interesting and complex.
We are His work of art.
Only God can understand any of us just as we are,
for only God knows just who we are.
The best news? Is being completely understood, I'm welcomed with open arms,
Praise God, just as I am!
Psalm 111:2 "Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them."
This post was originally posted May 31, 2014 on Treasures In The Dust as "Thoughts On Being Understood".