I have a profound compassion and respect for individuals with autism, their families, and their caregivers. The world in which they live is one that the majority will not only never understand, but one few make an effort to comprehend on a deeper level.
Though many of my own eccentricities and experiences pale in comparison to these individuals, I believe I am drawn to them because I do – on a minor scale – commiserate. There are certain tendencies or challenges that I deal with such as:
- Intense preference for / sensitivity to certain sounds (therefore, at times, need for full silence…or music…or earplugs)
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating unless under certain conditions
- Sensitivity to light
- When I was younger, anxiety surrounding social interaction (I couldn’t even ask for food at a snack bar!)
- Need for a heavy blanket or pressure when I sleep, or the sense of being in an alcove in order to be comfortable
- When I was younger, I also had trouble making friends – I’m still very much a lone wolf and need massive amounts of space and time to myself
- A tendency to take words very literally, and not forget them
- Too quiet and too chatty!
And…though I’m not ultra rigid to the point of breakdown, I have a strong preference for routine. When it comes to food, for example, I stick with the same (fortunately healthy) things. ALL the time. In part, its preference. In part, my body prefers it that way, not unlike some individuals with autism.
I used to feel badly about my “quirks” – embarrassed even! But I’ve realized that not only am I not alone in these traits, (and also not less of a person because of them!) but that they afford me the ability to help others who suffer greatly as a result of extreme variations of them. Certain sounds push me to the edge but then I think about the fact that understanding what that feels like gives me an edge in understanding the more extreme experience someone else is having. . .and that means more compassion. Compassion is something this community deserves in spades.
My “quirks” have also taught me the humor of it all. In life we all face challenges, both big and small. If we can find the humor in our situation, we can help others find the humor as well, not to mention keep ourselves on a healthy wavelength most of the time.
The community I have the great fortune to work with teaches me about not taking everything so seriously all the time…about finding the beauty in each of us in spite of some differences (and we ALL have “stuff!”)…and that a positive approach will help us see the gifts we’ve been given…even those born of adversity.
Yesterday at Barnes and Noble I saw a man wheel (in her wheelchair) a young girl – perhaps 15 – into the checkout line in front of me. I watched him kiss her head, which had been shaven maybe just weeks before. He kissed the enormous s-shaped scars that covered it, and she smiled and spoke sweetly to him.
I caught the gentleman’s eye – her father, I believe – and with a smile I could not contain I said, “she is SO beautiful! Her skin is like a doll’s!” He wheeled her around to see me and I told her the same. She then said, “thank you! You have such beautiful eyes!” in the sweetest voice you could imagine, and one I’ll not forget.
My heart felt so much joy, so much admiration, so much love. . . I couldn’t help but tell her, and was so honored for her kindness in return. Even if only some of us could see them, she wore about her head a glowing halo, and about the rest, a set of wings. After all she must have been through in her short time, she wanted nothing more than to share light with everyone else around her…
I bid them farewell as they finished buying her Anime book, and the man wheeled her out of the store – I knew I’d remember that moment forever.
It doesn’t take much to see the beauty around us, or to cherish the moments we meet precious souls. To touch another life is such a gift – I believe in sharing the positive thoughts we feel inside because you never know how much it may mean to someone else. Perhaps a father who has seen his child suffer as no one should?
There ARE angels among us – maybe right in front of your eyes. Don’t be afraid to encourage them too. Every heart deserves love and light, and to see the beauty in life. If you’re one of the ones who sees through that lens…share it. The world can always use more. ❤️
It may take a great leap of faith when all lights seem to have extinguished, but the stars are ever conspiring in your favor, way up there in the dark. . .
Sometimes you just need to find a little hope deep inside, and to trust the timing of the Universe.
Miracles happen all the time, just like an infinite, glittering snow storm once upon a March. . . Or perhaps a prosperous, full-of-good-fortune moon (which you will see when you look up tonight).
I remember surrendering to possibility, amidst a time of great uncertainty. And, just like that, my wildest dreams were surpassed.
Whether I accomplish it successfully or not, I aim for this every day with family, friends, and strangers alike. While I know I neither have the right, nor power necessarily, to make things “better” for people, I still hold onto the hope (not so secretly) that I can at least help someone along the way find the good, the positive, and the beauty where they may not have seen it before.
This shouldn’t make me laugh as much as it did. But…it did.
I’ll tell ya… The power of makeup…
A few of my lady idols… ❤