What We’ve Learned

Portion of my June 2013 Essay – Essay is broken down as blog posts into 4-5 parts. All posts derived from the essay will lead this message to allow you to avoid redundancy if you have already read it.

For the essay in it’s entirety, use:

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED

As the parent of an autistic child, I have learned a lot. We have learned a lot, my wife and I. I am not solely talking about learning the definition or science of autism, I am talking about what it means as a part of our life.
We have learned more about ourselves, about our limits (or what we thought were our limits), about our comfort zones, our intolerance and sensitivities. We have also learned about other people’s limits, comfort zones, intolerance, and sensitivities and how they can be different from our own.
We have learned what it is like to love and try to act lovingly unconditionally even if our perception of love or acts of love are not reciprocated. We have learned what it means to “turn the other cheek” and have the scars to show for it, literally and figuratively. We have learned that we are never in total control even though some people think or pretend they are. We have learned to quickly assess what we can control, do what we can and let go of the rest.
We have learned when to care and when not to care about what other people think. We have learned about how to identify our critics and whether they are saying anything worth listening to. We have learned that people can be unkind, but that unkindness is usually derived from something to be pitied, not entertained. We have learned that our perceptions are never a perfect depiction of reality and that people believe what they want to believe and often only as it conforms to their own interests. We have learned that even in a room full of good, well-intended people, it only takes a few to stir things up and make your life difficult. We have learned that there are people whose esteem is derived from places outside of themselves, people who prey on the weak. We have learned that kindness can be misinterpreted as weakness. We have learned that sometimes, and unfortunately, you need to bare your teeth to let them know you are not as weak as they think you are.
With all that said, we have learned that there is still joy to be had. There is still love to be given and received, both with our autistic child, her brother, family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. We have learned the value of surrounding ourselves with positive people helps you to focus upon what is important. We have learned the value of enrolling people, unifying objectives and building a team. We have learned that if you stand up to fight on someone else’s behalf, it is more powerful than letting them fight on their own. We have learned that sometimes there are heroes in our midst and sometimes you won’t know who they are until you need them. We have learned that it takes more courage to stand up for what’s right even when you don’t have to …what they call third party-credibility, you see?
This, among other things, is why autism awareness is important. We need more people in our community that understand and seek to understand than people who think they have all the answers.
There are people out there that have just begun learning all of this:
According to the most recent statistic, autism affects 1 in 146 children. They all have parents that are in for quite an experience.
If you are one of the few that think the statistical increase is solely a result in a change in diagnosis methods, I would be happy to introduce you to some parents who might in-turn introduce you to their children. It will change your perspective, I guarantee it.
The most important thing we have learned is that we are still learning and that our perceptions, beliefs and circumstances of today may be completely different tomorrow.

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