Here we are, sporting some blue. I had on all blue earlier, but changed into the blue scarf for this evening. Nathan has been wearing the Sonic shirt all day. Many folks, including J.T. (thank you!), Mrs. B and Mrs. L all donned their blue today.
I was in the grocery store earlier and I was buying a lot of gum. Nathan is currently obsessed with gum. He's fond of peppermint, but not "spicy" peppermint. I like to give it to the other kids in the after school program. The man behind me commented that his autistic son likes to chew gum. I shook his hand and said, "My son has autism, too." He told me his son is 17 and has autism, adhd , bipolar disorder and he's a bolter. He told me he had to keep all the doors locked and hide the keys because his son just loves to run. I said, "Bless you and your son."
We had a half day at school and we took the kids to Chuck E Cheese. 37 kids running around with wild abandon. 3 of them autistic. I spent some time with G, who likes to ride the kid rides. He'll go on the same one, over and over again, and it makes him happy. At one point, some of our kids were running with other children I didn't know. One child was clearly enjoying running and whooping loudly as he ran. I told our kids to slow down. The non whooping child stopped and said to me, "He has problems. He has problems." as if he was explaining why the child was whooping and not listening. I took that so hard, how he said the other child "had problems." Like he was a politico who was doing major spin on controversial subject matter. He looked delighted to be running and screeching at the top of his register. I wasn't bothered by his whooping one bit.
Autism has taught me about tolerance in a way that I wish I had learned years ago. There are times that I yearn for people to just open up and look at these kids and KNOW that they are people, too. Just because they may not be able to speak the way you and I do doesn't mean they don't have something to SAY. I want them to ask questions, I want them to learn about things that they fear and to shed their ignorance. I want them to empower themselves with knowledge. If they knew, they wouldn't be afraid. If they weren't afraid, they would be more tolerant of people that are different from them. It's social pragmatics. It can be taught to adults as well as children. I still am horrifically awkward in social situations, but I force myself to relearn the rules and to hone my craft. Like I always tell Nathan, "How do we become better at things? We practice."
Maybe we need to practice at how to be tolerant, because we are intolerant of people, places and things that are foreign to us. We do not tolerate things well. As evolved humans, our ability to adapt to situations that do not go our way have regressed to infantile like levels. Our autistic brothers and sisters cannot control themselves in ways that we can, or as best they can all the time, or have a bad day and just cannot do it. We need to be the ones who are tolerant FIRST. We need to be the ones who embrace change FIRST. We need to be the ones who show them love FIRST. They know love, they know fear, they know sadness and they know they are different. They just may not be able to tell us that or show it in ways that are "normal". Open your eyes up, and your heart up and your ears and mind will understand their unique language. You will have all the translation that you need.
They want to be heard. They need to be heard. They have a voice which is longing to reverberate across the air, but they cannot speak. Will you branch out of your comfort zone and help them be heard? Will you?