It hasn’t been windy here in a long time. Or at least, I haven’t noticed the wind. Wind is a funny thing. Have you ever tried to describe the rapid movement of air to a child, as wind? What’s blowing? Well, it’s air. You can’t see it but it’s there and it’s moving.
It’s a beautiful day outside. Sunny, bright. Absent the bowing of a branch, you’d merely see a tree against bright blue sky. But if you walked out there, you’d feel it. You’d know it’s icy.
What’s that they say? Winds of change, right? It’s been four full days since I added some bright blue to my otherwise, nondescript hair, again. It’s been blown all about. Until someone makes a comment, I often forget, it’s there. But the reminders come from strangers. I cannot count them anymore. They mention my hair and I impart the reason for it.
That part of my heart that is wrapped around autism is, like the wind, usually invisible to the outside world. Now, the icy blue flecks of hair, the beautiful puzzle piece pendant I acquired, and my voice, work together to open my heart to all who comment or ask.
In a year, I’d forgotten the importance of my little corner of the world. How abysmally self-centered of me to believe, even for a second, that the world does not need us to continue to spread the word of what autism is, how it affects our daily lives, what it’s like. The potential for interest and understanding that awaits us opening our hearts is there if we let it be.
In the past year, I’d come to think I knew all the same people and that there were not enough “new” people in my life to justify continuing down the road of “awareness” but for consistency, for my son, I did it again. I was so wrong about who knows what.
I have realized now, that I see an average of 20-25 people a day who are ‘new’ to me. People at my coffee shop, at my son’s school, in my office, at the mall, buying a Happy Meal, getting gasoline, at the grocery store. All of them start the conversation with my hair. All have left those conversations knowing a little more about autism. Knowing something new – what to look for – what’s different, the same – what’s available to diagnose, to aid, and how I have come to live the respect and love for a child with autism.
I was sad when I last wrote here because we’re going through a period of change. Change happens all the time for everyone. It’s part of life. Some appear to accept it easier than others. Autism lends itself to a deep love of familiarity and routine. It calms the nerves, lessens the anxiety. For me too, routine is soothing and adding a little dose of blue to my hair would be change. I need routine, to remember all I have to do for my son, to keep his meds in the right dose at the right time, to get him to bed so he’s not overtired, to wake him in time for school… don’t rock the boat.
But as time passes, change comes with growth. Size 6 has become size 7, 12.5 shoes are now 13.5 or 1’s. Yes, he’s gained about six pounds and grown over an inch and a quarter. Medication were changed. Finding the right fit in clothes for us also means finding the right fit of medication.
We’ve found both now. The rather large chasm in the road has sealed itself, and we’ve walked right over it as though it was a mere bump along our path.
The most beautiful part of the view now is the detail with which my son is now seeing the world.
Between his birth and two weeks ago, my son had not so much as ever mentioned a smell in his life. You will see tons of old posts where I say he is “hyposensitive” to smell. But now? Yesterday, as we merged onto the freeway, behind a diesel truck, he said, “Something smells bad, Mommy!” For the first time, I got to explain that the smell was diesel fuel. Was he hyposensitive or was there a loss of connection between the smell and the communication of his perception of the smell? Either way, it’s connecting now. And that’s huge.
As we drove further down the road, he played with his “Wheels on the Bus” app on his iPad. Yes, it is intended for smaller children and he’s nearly done with first grade. And yes, it does drive me crazy. (I find myself alone, humming it while washing dishes). But then he described for me, yesterday, the “froggy-baker” (he hides under a chef’s hat) at the beginning of the app. “It’s a blue frog and it has a king’s crown and little hearts all around his head.” He’s seen it hundreds of times, but he’s never described it before, and never with detail, without prompting of any kind other than, “What color is froggy-baker?”
He’s giving me sharper images. It’s me that ends up learning. I can see the branches bend as the wind blows, not just a picture of a tree and clear skies.
I think what I’ve learned, most of all in the last week, is that I’ll never be done learning and when I am? It’ll be because I refused to open my eyes to the possibility of change.