Miracles happen every day when we least expect them. And this summer has been no exception.
Out on the soccer field, my boy kicked around the ball with his friends, as they all tried to follow the coach’s directions.
While making a turn, his teammate crashed into the turf. He held his knee and grimaced in pain.
From the other end of the field, my little man rushed to his aid.
As I stood with the other boy’s mama, I witnessed him helping the boy up. Like a wounded soldier, his friend leaned on him and hopped back across the field to the coach.
In my son’s life, this is no small miracle. To put action to compassion and reach out in empathy is astounding for a child with autism.
The other soccer moms and dads erupted in applause. Because they knew. This was a special soccer league for kids with autism. And having their own children on the autism spectrum, they appreciated what a huge leap in my little guy’s development this was.
The mama of the boy with the hurt knee was thrilled and thanked my son profusely.
My boy pointed to his own knee, at the scar from years ago when he tripped on the sidewalk and bit the dust. “I got hurt on my knee, too.”
He got it. He really, truly experienced empathy, understanding his friend’s pain at such a level that he had compassion on him and helped him out.
And, I am still beaming, teary and thankful for this miracle in his life and thankful for all that autism has taught me.
8 Ways Having a Child With Autism Helped Me Grow:
1. In thankfulness.
I’m learning to appreciate the little things. Things I would have overlooked in my more typically developing children. Like saying hello to a new person without being prompted or learning to swim after three years of lessons. These things are huge in the life of a child with autism.
2. In patience.
Because you can’t hurry things up for a child with autism who does things so methodically, no steps can be skipped.
3. In humility.
Yes, I was one of those mamas. Who wondered if that screaming child in Target needed a little more discipline. Nope. Not anymore. I totally get it now.
4. In gentleness.
Caring for a super sensory-sensitive little guy who covers his ears at the slightest amplification in my voice is like having a tool to measure my own level of frustration. It helps to know when to tone it down.
5. In respect.
Having worked at a school for special needs, I saw the children for part of the day and then could go home and recharge. I had no idea the amount of fortitude it takes to be a full-time caregiver of a child with special needs until I had my own. It stretches you beyond what you thought was ever possible.
6. In flexibility.
Perfectionism dies when it’s very clear that I’ll never attain it. Sometimes we fool ourselves into believing we can somehow attain a measure of control in our lives, but I’ve had to learn to let things go in order to have a greater measure of peace.
7. In grace.
When you have a firstborn who has one temper tantrum (just one!) in the entirety of her toddler years and then have a boy who has ten in one day, you realize that some battles are not worth fighting. You learn that your child’s heart is more important than his behavior.
8. In love.
Not that I love perfectly, but I’ve had to learn to love on those days when I’m tired and frustrated and don’t feel like dealing with a meltdown. To not take it personally when I get yelled at and called the worst mom ever. And to not let my love for my child to diminish no matter what. At the end of the day after stories, prayers and a kiss on the forehead, may he know that he is loved.