The National Autistic Society are conducting a survey of people with autism and their carers, to mark their 50th year. The questions within the survey are many and varied, and without wanting to devalue what the Society is trying to do, are nearly all balanced to the negative.
So much negativity surrounds those labelled 'autistic'. It is so often about what they cannot 'do', cannot learn, and cannot contribute that seems to matter - and this is simply not true - at least, not for me and my magical child.
13 years ago there was a relief attached to the diagnosis. At last there was a 'reason' for why things were as they were. But all too soon the weight of carrying such a burden became heavy and wearisome. It was as if sentence had been delivered and all hope abandoned. So called 'support groups' became available to me, but I would return home more miserable and hopeless than before. To hear from others how bad it could get, what monstrous things might happen to my growing child, and how isolated and lonely one can be, did not ease my path into the role of parent and carer of my awesomely different child. In those days there was little to celebrate. Parents would break down and weep at the loss of their child - as if they had buried them already - and as the years stretched out ahead like a barren wasteland with nothing to fill it but pain, sadness and regret, I wondered in self-pity what I had done to deserve such a life.
But this has not been my path. This has not been my fate.
I soon learned that however hard I fought I could not resist this condition. I could not change it. I could not go back in time and see if not allowing the MMR vaccination (which had seemed to have triggered traumatic changes in my infant), would have resulted in a different outcome. My first and biggest lesson was to accept my daughter EXACTLY the way she was. Not view her as flawed, wrong or deficient. To see this beautiful child as the perfect being she truly is.
The trouble is Society is constantly telling you otherwise. Those who think they know your child better than you do, want to manipulate, force and cajole. They tell you they know what is best - they want to try to make the child like the rest of us - to change their perfection and make them 'normal'.
But I have come to know a different truth about these precious beings.
These children already know what is best. They know what is best for themselves and us, and if we should take the time to listen to them, watch them and learn from them with our hearts open and our minds receptive, our world could be transformed.
They tell the Truth you see. They see the rest of us with all our lies and deceit, cruelty and madness, and it makes no sense at all. Why would they want to be like us? Why would they want to hurt themselves and others?
These children want to be at Peace, and they are here to show us that there IS Peace to be known in this world.
The understanding of non-attachment, which we so often interpret in autistic people as being uncaring, has been the goal of Buddhists for thousands of years. There is great peace to be found in non-attachment. To live as they do, in the 'now', to be fully present - for this is how to be at peace with yourself and others - is a rare gift. As many are beginning to understand in these times of increasing enlightenment, there is only 'now', and to continue to live as most of us do, in an endless torment of struggle to acquire more and get away from where we are, to get 'over there' where we can never be, is not only pointless but actually insane.
Our autistic children and adults are offering us a glorious opportunity for growth and understanding. Through them we have a chance to live happier, more joyful, more meaningful lives if we choose to share in the gifts they are bringing. Are we up to receiving such wisdom? Are we brave enough to set aside our ego driven, greedy, cruel nature, and take up the gentle banners of peace?
I continue to be in awe of my child. She holds great insights, has great understanding, and a great capaciy for Love in its purest form. She does not grab and grasp, or become consumed by the desire to possess - she is free of all that. She lives in the moment, often blissful when left to her own devices. She laughs and skips and brings Light into this world. She is a beautiful child and I count myself the luckiest of parents.