Friday, May 21, 2010

Autism & Joy

I have a little neighbor who, whenever he sees me, shouts my name with the most delight I've ever heard come out of a child. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to give him a tight squeeze as he runs into my open arms. Matthew is just one of the many sources of joy in my life.

I didn't always have this joy, however. The way I was raised and the anger and disappointment that came from most of the adults in my life told me that autism was some sort of social death sentence. For years I believed this and never tried nor wanted to relate to anyone. Until I went back to college that is.

The decision to return to a world teeming with people and life ultimately changed everything for me. The journey to love my neighbor got officially underway then, but with this trip there's never really a final destination. None of us love perfectly but I do think loving better than we did is a worthy goal to have. And it's the striving to achieve this goal that brings me the most pleasure in life.

Autism is a force to be reckoned with. I would be less than honest if I didn't admit that. Even so, it does not have the power to steal joy. I hope all of you who are weary and afraid can find some of what you need here. Even if it's just one more thread for the end of your rope, I hope to encourage you to take it and then to hold on.

It's hard, but joy can come in the morning even when you've been up all night crying...the sun does eventually shine again.

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