On Wednesday, we had a bowling match against David Lipscomb. I won 2 of my 3 games! The second game was really close… I only beat my opponent by 5 pins! Ms. Amanda was on the edge of her seat. The girls on the other team were nice, and most of them are the same age as me. I bought popcorn as a special treat. I like the extra buttery pieces the best!
The game was over. Amanda, Grace's paraprofessional from school, had texted me the scores throughout the afternoon. I drove to pick up Grace from Amanda's home. After exchanging goodbyes, Grace stopped halfway down the steps of Amanda's porch and then jumped the remaining ones. Amanda and I laughed. Grace is 16 and the persona that jumped off the porch was all of kindergarten age developmentally. My mind took it all in in slow motion and asked the question: "How could I not love all of her?" The 16-year-old who physically just jumped off the steps and the spirit and mentality of the her–young woman/child–that jumped.
I have journeyed this odd road of autism the last 14 years seeing some parents "hate" this diagnosis. I assert the diagnosis is a key part of your child's identity. Not all, but integral. Choose acceptance, I say. Or, Be Miserable–like so many I see still searching for a cure in their son or daughter's late teens.
Hell, yes, it's hard and I get frustrated beyond belief at her developmental delays. Often. But, somewhere along the way I learned that I like Peace and Harmony more than conflict and anguish. I can fight and hate or I can embrace and choose sometimes to laugh.
And you know what? Somewhere on that road to acceptance, I learned to work with and honor what I had and who she is.
…said a parent on a panel on which I presented recently in regards to parenting a child with autism. Grace's paraprofessional thought creatively and enrolled Grace on the high school bowling team.
…advised another parent advocate friend. Grace's team thought "high" and put her on the team.
…proclaimed a special father. And, Grace surprised us by being a pretty darn good-competent bowler.
I don't love a perfect child. I love a child who came into the world Different. Very Different.
I've decided to ask not "Why?" But:
And, how could I not love this child for being just who she is….Just who she is meant to be in our world.
Grateful here. And, very much in Love….How could I not be?
*In general education keyboarding class at Grace's public high school, Grace and Amanda discuss what Grace wants to write about and then Amanda types out simple sentences which, then, Grace types onto a computer. While Grace is only minimally verbal, she is able to answer yes and no about events that Amanda is cued have happened–helping her to tease out a message that Grace approves….(Above photo taken sometime, somewhere. Maybe a year ago. Blush. Snicker.)