This Is How I Find Joy in Autism


Sometimes life has a way of giving you a situation you don’t think you’re prepared for. Sometimes when things don’t go as planned, we have the why me? mentality, and it can be hard to move past it.

I’m in the process of moving past all those sometimes moments. I still don’t know if I’m prepared for autism, but I do know that I’m finding the happy in the midst of it all. This time of year is a time of reflection. It can be a season of re-birth, when we ponder the birth of a Savior. For others it may just be plain hard. Some may be missing loved ones who have passed. Some may be wishing their deployed spouse was home. Others may have bitterness in their hearts for all of the horrible things life has thrown their way this year. There are those with anger, those with pain, those without forgiveness in their hearts.

Then there are those with joy.

Autism has taught me a lot of things in the short time that we’ve known one another. Some of the lessons have been hard to understand, but some have been lightbulb moments. Autism has taught me to question everything I know or thought I knew about development and to appreciate the simplest milestones. It’s taught me how to be jealous and selfish, but it’s also taught me how to sacrifice completely for another human being. It’s taught me to view the world in a different way — a way that doesn’t make sense to me many times. But I’m learning. While this journey may be difficult and the unknown may be fearful… I’m finding my joy.

When Drake watches “Curious George” and his face lights up with laughter at the funny parts. Joy.

Anytime the Christmas tree is turned on, Drake has a little smile on his face. Last year he didn’t acknowledge the tree. He now walks up to it and admires the lights and shiny things. Joy.

Our cat, Pebbles has been with us 16 years. Drake has just started acknowledging her existence (much to her dismay). Joy.

Drake has become a little helper. He likes to do  things like help me unload the dishwasher and put clothes in the washing machine. Joy.

Drake’s face every single time he sees my daddy. They have a special love for one another; no one competes with Grandaddy. Joy.

Drake doesn’t speak. Not a single word. But… almost everyone who spends any amount of time with him can communicate with him. He has the unique ability to communicate amazingly well without uttering a word. Joy.

His laughter is magical. Joy.

When he masters something he’s been struggling with you can see the confidence on his face. Joy.

Drake interacts differently than other children, but he still interacts. He wants others to be in the room with him when he’s watching his cartoons. He loves having others watch him jump on his trampoline. Joy.

He’s responding so well to therapy, and he loves his therapists in a unique and special way. Joy.

All of these things put a smile on my face just thinking about them. But there’s one thing about Drake that makes my heart nearly burst. I’m not sure I can adequately put into words how much joy it brings me when Drake tells me he loves me… without speaking.

Drake has always been affectionate, and there are moments I know without a doubt he’s telling me he loves me… deeply.  Others who know and love Drake have expressed these same sentiments. Love is more than words to Drake. He doesn’t need words to express emotions and feelings. He’s mastered the true essence of love in three short years. It takes some people decades to understand that love is more than words… it’s action. While Drake has not found his voice, he certainly understands what it is to love and be loved. I’m blessed to be his mother. I’m thankful for his sweet spirit and for all that he is teaching me.

Joy.

May all of your hearts be filled with joy this Christmas season and always. Remember, no matter how bleak the situation… there’s always a tiny thread of hope called joy.

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This post originally appeared on Walking With Drake.

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