I can handle anything, God, just not a child with mental challenges. A child with no legs, no problem. A deaf child, ok, so that would be harder. But a child who is developmentally delayed, I just don’t think I could handle that.

Strangely enough,one of my favorite elementary school memories is tied to one of my “slower” classmates. As a star student myself, I was assigned to help him with his work after I had finished mine. Once the last addition problem was completed, we would scramble under his desk, giggling as we scoured the floor for tiny pencils, most likely tossed aside for a brand new one.

In high school I made it a point to spend every other lunch day with the kids everyone else considered too weird, and not a cool weird. I did it because that’s what Jesus would do. But looking back, those are the lunches I remember the best, with the biggest smile. They were so uproariously fun, so real – those kids really knew how to just let their joy shine or their sorrow flow. When they saw me in the lunch line, arms would go flailing and voices would beckon me to please join them. If they weren’t happy with me, they flat out told me I was being a jerk. There was no hiding behind a wall of, “I’m cool.”

But when my oldest child was diagnosed with autism, it was still a huge, heart-breaking shock. The world stopped, my dreams of visiting grandkids, of ever having an empty nest, there was nothing but endless parenting for the rest of my life. The future became like a blackboard smeared of its grand plans, not wiped clean, just a swirling sadness.

I still have no idea what the future actually holds. There will be more parenting than I really want, but the joy of seeing my autistic child finally learn how to brush his teeth by himself is so much more intense. My normal kid cooks a pizza, and I feel like, great, but of course you can do that. An entire angel choir breaks out when my autistic son cooks supper for the entire family.

Do I like the pain? No, I really don’t. But is it worth the gain? You better believe your bippy!

Am I shiny and perfect, no. I have huge flaws. But I am prettier than I used to be.

Published by

Heather Holbrook

I found out that I have Autism upon having a son with the same "disorder." Ironically, I was voted, "Most Likely to Succeed," by my high school classmates. But had I been born now, instead of 40+ years ago, I would have been considered a different sort of special. This site was started to encourage other Autistics and the people who love them .

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