Dear New-to-autism Parents,
There is so much I want to write to you about, but most importantly, I want to tell you what a dear friend told me when I first discovered my son has autism.
I had called her to tell her what I feared, that Sage has autism. I was incredibly afraid of what the future held for him, as well as for our family.
At the time we only had Sage and his twin sister, Hope. We saw the differences in development between the twins, and it became so drastically different, that we knew something wasn't right. Hope would converse with us, Sage wouldn't. Hope wouldn't run away if we put her down outside, Sage would bolt away in the blink of an eye. Hope would come to us if we called her by name, Sage didn't seem to know he had a name.
He was unengaged, but we didn't know to use that term yet. He was so extremely bright in things like the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors, and building things, that we didn't "get" the extent of his disability at first. It wasn't until the extreme tantrums over unusual things (like crayons falling after he carefully placed them standing on the flat end, lined up in the order of the rainbow), the sudden refusal to sleep (like I wrote to you about in the last letter) and the absence of speech and understanding of the english language, that we knew. Sure, he had bad eye contact and sensitive hearing--he often covered his ears in pain, but those signs could be explained away.
So it was a big surprise to us, to learn about his autism. And, it was devastating.
I was plagued with questions: Would we ever hear him voice his thoughts? Call me Mommy? Would he play with his twin sister? Would he be destined for group homes? Will we spend our lives in and out of meetings with Social Workers and Agencies of different types?
I did not want that!
You see, I did that as my job when I was in my 20's. I knew the burn-out that can happen working in that field, and there I was: the field became my home, my life, and I was scared.
So, when I called my friend and told her, "I think Sage has autism." It was all I could do to get those words out. It was as if saying it out loud, would make it real.
Do you want to know what she said to me?
She responded(no doubt inspired by God)with, "Merri, God is holy. He doesn't make mistakes."
And that, my dear friend, is why I am writing you this letter. Those two sentences not only changed my entire way of thinking, but directed my path ever since.
You see, God knew Sage has autism. It was only news to me. Sage was the same gift from God that he always was. I just discovered something new about him. God's plans for him are the same, and they include his autism. He didn't make a mistake; He is making art.
Not only that, but God had prepared me from my teenage years, when I was intensely interested in autism (after I had seen a true-to-life story on T.V. about it). Because of that, I sought out my first real job working in group homes. I worked with all sorts of people from those developmentally disabled to mentally ill to a mix of the two. From about 18 years old until I was 28, I worked either in Group Homes or In-home Supports. I loved it (aside from the stress it could bring at times), and I loved the people I worked with, and I loved my families I worked with. I loved my co-workers and supervisors. It was a great job and I learned a tremendous amount about people with disabilities and services out there to help them and their families.
So when I looked back, after the initial stomping-of-my-feet at God, I could clearly see that God had this all planned out for me too... even before I was married and had children, He had this planned out for me since before I was born.
And knowing that has made it much easier to embrace, because you see... It isn't bad. It is good. It is God.
Our society says it is sad, but God says that "we" -- all His children (with no modifiers about being what we think of as "perfect") are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
I pray that you will be able to embrace your child's autism as well, and know that he or see is a beautiful piece of art in the eyes of God, with a very important task that only your child can do. He or she was born for such a time as this.
Until next time,