Autism and Holidays, a Christmas Story:
Last night as I was going to the store, I listened to my favorite CD of Christmas carols. As usual, my eyes filled with tears as I heard the familiar tunes and once again experienced the bittersweet feelings that I'm sure all of us experience at this time of year.
Feelings spawned by the specter of Christmas with autism, and holidays filled with the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future for myself, my husband and our other son.
I thought of the family gatherings in Virginia that we would once again miss because it's too hard to visit when we are busy keeping Lucas from breaking other people's things or opening other people's presents.
I thought of the children's caroling party in our neighborhood, which we cannot attend due to Lucas' inability to understand the concept.
I got tired of just thinking about once again trying to explain to "Santa" what Lucas was saying. And I once again thought back to Christmases long ago, when I could decorate the whole house and actually put presents under the tree without having them destroyed as soon as they landed there.
I was angry and saddened that because of autism, holidays had become something I dreaded.
But as I lay in bed last night, unable to sleep, I began to think very clearly, the type of thoughts that only seem to come in the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping and we parents finally get to REALLY be alone with our thoughts.
I remembered that when Lucas was diagnosed, we were told that he would probably never speak, and that we might be looking at institutionalization by the age of ten.
I thought about the fact that Lucas made his own Christmas list this year, cutting out pictures from sale circulars and gluing them on paper.
I thought about Lucas and his brother fighting over whose turn it was to pick the TV show last night, just like regular kids.
Then I thought about that Christmas long ago, when a child came into the world and changed it forever.
And right then and there, God hit me upside the head and I finally got it.
Lucas and children like him are the best gift in the world. Because of him, my priorities are constantly being kept in line with what's really important in life.
Because of him, I see the world through eyes of pure innocence every day.
I have the privilege of knowing people who have dedicated their professional lives to helping children learn; people I never would have met if I didn't have Lucas.
Christmas will be great this year. We will stay home and enjoy each other's company, and live in our pajamas if we want to.
And I will rest assured that if I work very hard at it, maybe I can achieve the innocence, honesty and lack of guile that will help me be more like Lucas.
Because, unlike me, he's got a straight shot into heaven when all is said and done.
Merry Christmas and God bless us, every one!