Autism is a blue-pen diagnosis
scrawled across white paper.
Poor social skills.
Autism is unpredictable.
It is unusual, and unexpected.
It is rigidity, tenacity, and ability,
all rolled into one complicated mind.
It is a father’s determination.
This father, see, he hurts.
Sure, he is quiet about it all.
He doesn’t rant and rave and gnash his teeth.
He teaches things some might consider unteachable,
He explains how the solar system works,
and the best way to park a car.
How to shake another person’s hand,
where to place the stamp on an envelope.
He loves his unexpected son.
This love, it is a whole-heart kind of love.
The kind that makes you stand back, and hold your breath.
Autism is tippy-toes,
and itchy clothes.
and trains in a row.
A life of no
inside a world of yes.
No party invitations.
No relief from the repetitive scripting,
or the constant hand-washing,
or the ever-lasting worry.
Autism is pancakes for breakfast,
a bread bowl for lunch,
and spaghetti for dinner.
It is a game of genetic roulette,
and arguments about vaccines.
It is like holding a fragile butterfly in the palm of your hand.
You admire all the colors.
You coax him to spread his wings.
With all of your heart, you hope he can fly.
And you pray someone doesn’t come along,
and crush his spirit.
You see, autism is.
It just is.
It is a life changed.
It is a family altered.
It is forever and ever and ever and always.
It is good then hard and good and okay.
It is right and ordinary and even amazing.
It is freedom, if you choose to see it.
Freedom from report cards,
and long, rainy mornings on a soccer field.
Freedom to sit at the dinner table
as the sun sets across the sky.
Freedom to be exactly who we want to be
when culture and society and technology try to be the boss.
Autism is a pure heart,
and a racing mind.
A pressing need for schedule, and routine.
It is chasing a firefly amongst the trees,
ducking and running and reaching through the leaves.
You run and you chase and you breathe and you run again.
With each step, you call out to your luminous firefly.
You beg for a word.
Or a sign.
Or maybe a crystal ball.
Jack, say Mama. See? Ma-ma.
Autism is not wrong.
It is a different way to think.
Another way to live.
Rooting for the underdog.
It is snippets of conversation,
and an unexpected smile.
It is an ongoing cycle of progress and despair,
despair and progress.
Some days, it is nothing more
than a boy sitting at the table with his family.
Jack, tell us. How was your day?
At the same time, it is more.
It is more than this boy and his family and their pork chops on white plates.
It is bigger than all of them.
hope love light
A thousand brilliant stars
twinkling against a navy sky.
It is you.
This story originally appeared on www.carriecariello.com