Autistic Children are Constantly in Bloom.
This blog is inspired by my two favorite people on the entire planet… my two children, Cavin Lee (22) and my Zachariah (14). Seeing as it is coming up on April, “Autism Awareness Month”, I felt it was a good a time as any to discuss the many beautiful ways my boys have inspired me, motivated me, challenged me and delighted me.
I was particularly motivated to tell this story by a conversation I had earlier today with an acquaintance. I was explaining for whatever reason that my boys were Autistic when in response I instantly got the “sad face” and an “I’m sorry”. While I have no doubt that the sympathy was genuine, it was very wasted on me. You see, neither my children nor I are to be sympathized with. Empathy for sure but not sympathy, for my journey with these two boys saved me, not the other way around. My eldest quite literally saved my heart by coming into this world and transformed me as a human being as do most children. He however, had a special gift that took years to recognize, and that was Asperger’s. We knew he was a genius, wise beyond his years and an old soul with a young, wondrous mind, but many of the social cues were off and we could not quite put our finger on what it was. As he grew older the behaviors looked odder. He was interested almost intently on only certain things and exhibited behaviors as what we now recognize to have been stimming and OCD, looked a lot like a person living on the wrong planet.
For eight years we tried to have another child when finally our Zachariah came along. Only then did we realize how long a journey we would have. We believe Zach was born Autistic, there was no major transformation, just a baby who did not make eye contact, no real human touch seemed to comfort him and sounds, colors or pictures set him off into a terrified tail spin. He could not speak and would not speak more than a few words until nearly third grade. God was showing me what I was made of.
Now with a lot of early intervention, (I am always happy to share my experiences if you would like to contact me personally) both of my boys have come a very long way and are passionate, empathetic, talented, funny, charming and well mannered young men. Though they have many challenges ahead of them, they are an inspiration to everyone around them as they persevere without complaints. The world does not realize that they are challenged because they have not become victims of their handicap, they are victors. We call Autism “Awesom-tistic” because we believe it is a gift that like any other gift, must be channeled and honed into an art form. The gift to me and my husband as parents was to never take a moment for granted. Much like the constant successes of a small child, an Autistic person can have those same successes every day in the most subtle but life changing ways. Ways only the Autistic person and a parent could appreciate and this goes on for a lifetime in many cases. Small accomplishments with enormous impacts, much like in a garden.
Gardening was an amazing form of therapy for me throughout all of this and continues to be as my children have some irrational fears of the outdoors. I can use sensory plants, veggies and herbs or bees buzzing in the flowers to create life lessons and analogies that teach and present opportunities to learn and I would not be the gardener or the person I am without these experiences. I know there is a lot of controversy over the cause of Autism and the increase of cases but as far as I am concerned my children are Autistic because of all of the toxic chemicals in our food and on our planet so I have changed the way we eat, live, teach, work and speak because of these experiences and am grateful for every lesson.
In honor of “Autism Awareness Month”, we plant blue flowers every year. This year will be Bluebonnets and blue Larkspur. We install a blue light bulb in the light in our window and firmly plant a sign in our yard proudly stating the occasion. We also have a party night on Autism Awareness Day to celebrate our differences. Please take this opportunity to educate yourself on the early signs of Autism because early intervention is crucial for these children and the child you save from a lifetime of struggles may be your own.
The next time you meet someone with Autism or the parent of a child with Autism, take a moment to understand their journey, we invite questions, we invite compliments, we welcome empathy when our children are freaking out over a picture on the front of a cereal box, or at a noisy event, but do not show pity because even though we may not be feeling it at the moment, we are the lucky ones.
If you would like to volunteer for children and families with Autism, you can always plant a sensory garden or natural habitat, you can also make financial contributions to organizations like Autismspeaks.org.
Now go get your garden on, (whatever the reason)
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“like” me on Facebook)
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”