Today, I am not your autism guru or even a very helpful friend. Today, I am your friend who came knocking on your door with fuzzy hair and tears in her eyes, who sits on your couch and sips her coffee with her knees pulled up to her chest.
I’ve come to a place where I know how to parent William. Not perfectly, by any means, but my William-parenting comes from a heart bursting with love for him, and I’m always learning in a manageable and normalized way.
My current overwhelm? Looks like my husband is on the spectrum, too. And probably Nora–who, to complicate things, does not know.
When William was diagnosed, I was devastated. This time is not that. This time, I feel like years of frustrating behavior suddenly comes together and makes sense. I feel like my people are still my people and not actual jerks. I feel like perhaps my thoughts and ideas will be more heard now that my husband recognizes his social deficits.
But I am overwhelmed.
My heart bursts with love for these two also, but I’ve been hurt and frustrated by their behaviors for years before I knew what they were. I am still currently at war with myself over issues like my salvation, their salvation, the part of me that doesn’t care about their disabilities but just wants to be hurt and angered by their behavior. And I wonder how I can dredge up the power to fashion a home that is a place of healing and acceptance.
I have never felt like I have been more aware and sensitive to the needs and personhood of a person on the spectrum. I have never felt more love towards them. I don’t hate autism anymore or wish to cure it. I understand it as part of autistic people’s identity, something they love about themselves because they can’t separate their autism from their person, their loves, their dislikes, and their habits. I get that, and I respect that.
But, I address my dear and beloved spectrumites–this neurotypical struggles to understand sometimes, and struggles to give others the space they need. This neurotypical is human and is overwhelmed by her failures.
I’m here on your couch with tears in my eyes, not because of who you are, but because I don’t want to fail you. Please forgive me for the times I’ve already done so, and for how much I have to wrestle myself. I love you and I want to understand you, but I swear to God I am still learning your language.
Let us pray for each other, and may God carry us on this journey together.