What can do you do if the world looks down on you? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
The time with the family for Christmas is over and today, I flew back to New Orleans. As I write this, I am sitting in my own apartment. Shiro is still a bit apprehensive, but he’s getting there. I have got to pet him some and when I went to take my shower, he was right there waiting when I opened the door.
My folks took me to the airport and from there, everything was all me. I had booked my flight in advance and paid for it all and I was the one handling the details. As I was flying out and looking out the window, I began thinking about the past and what all had been said.
You see, when I was growing up, it was apparent that I was different in a way. Sure, there were positives, but there were concerns. Hardly anyone could understand me when I spoke and my diet was super finicky and my social skills were poor. As readers of this blog know, the diagnosis that came back was Autism.
Keep in mind when I say what I say that I realize I am high-functioning. I know there are degrees. I know various people can handle various things. Because I do X, it doesn’t mean everyone can, but for some, I do hope to give them, well, hope.
My parents were told that I would never graduate from high school or go to college or drive a car or hold a regular job or get married. I would never live on my own. I would have to stay with my parents forever. One doctor even wanted to keep me in a hospital on feeding tubes. My mother rejected that entirely and said he was never to come near me ever again.
As I was flying back on the plane today and looking out the window, I thought about all of that. I remember my mother telling me about going to my middle school beforehand and climbing the stairs because I was dreadfully afraid of staircases. I told my mother I had to do this. I wanted to do this.
I’ve made it a point to overcome challenges. When I was in high school, while most students were leaning how to drive, I was learning how to walk. Why? Because I had scoliosis surgery and naturally, there was a time when I could not really move that much. I had to have someone help me carry my bags for at least a year.
Eventually, I did everything that they said that I wouldn’t do. Right now I am in seminary and my professors would tell you I’m excelling. I was on the plane flying from Knoxville to Chicago and then to New Orleans.
I remember looking out the window again and thinking about how I seem to blend in well with the world and thought “It’s like I belong here”, and I thought, “But of course I do.” This is my Father’s world after all and one reason He made it is for His children to enjoy it.
Then I thought about what I could say today about that. How many children are not given hope? How many parents are told their children will not be able to do XYZ? A lot of the greatest people in the world today are the ones who said “No” back to the “experts” and defied expectations.
Autism is not necessarily a death sentence. It doesn’t have to be. If you have a child on the spectrum, don’t give up hope. Find out what they do well at, and encourage them in it. My own path was to take my love of Christianity, which I never would have dreamed landed me flying around the country and living over 600 miles away from my own parents and managing a budget, working a job, driving a car, and everything else alone.
I’m thankful my parents never treated it as a death sentence for me. It’s a shame so many people still do.
Don’t be one of them.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)