April 2nd is Autism Awareness Day, but I have little to say about Autism. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about it. I even remembered to order the solar-powered blue lights, though at this point I realize I ordered them a bit late for the “solar” part of the “powered” to kick in for the 2nd. While tomorrow is Autism Awareness Day, today is April Fools’ Day, and often I feel my life is much more comical than serious. Autism sounds so serious.
At times it is truly difficult. But over the past several days, as I’m getting this blog ready in my head to share with all of you the statistical significance of 1 in 88 (though now CDC theorizes 1 in 68), I just kept catching myself laughing, and sinking in.
In our home, Autism is astounding firsts every day. It’s take life a little less seriously because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It’s singing at the top of your lungs while the children are begging you to stop. It’s catching your daughter lying, and celebrating (behind her back of course) because lying is not a natural talent for most children with Autism, so this is a BIG DEAL. It’s realizing, about five seconds later, that “oh, crap, she’s capable of lying. I didn’t think I’d have to worry about it with ‘this one.'”
Autism is a constant reminder of celebrating the little things, not because the big things don’t exist, but because the little things are also worth hanging on to. It is a reminder, sometimes, to stop everything and listen.
The most profound part of reflecting on this year’s April 2nd, was after commiserating (again) on our little girl’s traumatic and early entrance into the world. In her early years, we took our time realizing there might be some delays. She was a preemie, and only weighed 2 1/2 pounds at birth. We gave her so much room to “catch up” that it took us until she was two to realize she wasn’t. We reminisce about her early years a lot, from the trauma-drama of her birth, to the celebrations of her growth with the services of Birth to 3. After our traditional talk, I took some time to just sit down at the kitchen table, while everyone else was in the living room, and I listened.
“Sage, can you come here?” “Okay Momma, I’m coming! I’ll be right there.” “Thank you Sage, can you clean this up and bring it to the garbage?” “Sure, I can. I can do that.” “Thank you, that’s some great listening and awesome helping.” (Sometimes I listen to my wife’s parenting with such admiration. She’s a rock star Mom.) “Wow, Sage (her brother interjects), you’re doing so great with that. Would you like to go upstairs to the quiet room with me?” “Yes, I’ll come. I’m coming!” Giggle fits follow.
Perhaps in most homes this is normal, or “typical.” In our home, it’s the beautiful sunset after a hard day, the cream cheese frosting right out of the container, the extra cuddle you didn’t know you’d get. It’s the small moment, that when caught, becomes a big one. Preemie-trauma-drama, Autism and the normal struggles and strife of life are all enough to derail us. I have my daughter to thank, and all the ways she’s helped us change into a better family for her. She inspires me to pay attention, and catch so many of these life-altering little moments. I may try not to sweat the small stuff, but I sure treasure sinking into it.