Today we are truly blessed to have a guest blog from Fathers For Autism. FFA is raising a daughter on the spectrum and lives in Southern California. I was introduced to FFA through a blogger forum by a mutual friend. There are few dadvocates in the blogosphere, and I am lucky to know one in my backyard. A gifted writer, fierce critic, empathetic soul, and ravenous dadvocate... A man I am truly blessed to call friend.
It is my honor to share this guest post on World Autism Awareness day from Fathers For Autism.
"Autism, to me, means ______ "
Find a quiet place, away from sound, bright light and external distractions. Have a seat, don't speak...close your eyes...take a breath and hold it.
Let it be the last tense breath you take and slowly let it go...
As you inhale and begin to breathe normally, allow the sound of your breathing to permeate your senses. Really hear it, feel it. Feel your lungs moving in and out, expanding your rib cage, stretching your skin. The whoosh of the air as you exhale, the pressure of the inhale.
Stand up as soundlessly as you can, still focusing wholly on your breathing.
Gradually move back into your life. Open your eyes, turn on the lights, hear the sound the light switch makes, feel the contrast of the brightness.
Walk to the door, hearing your footsteps, feeling the light, remembering your breathing.
Open the door, cold door knob, slight squeak in the door, pressure in your hand pulling the door open, the air changing as you do, the light changing. Remember your breathing.
Pass through the shape of the door, constricting, and walk to the next room. The air smells different in here, what is that, the sounds have changed.
Listen to every sound, allow them all in. The sound of the lights, the refrigerator, the air conditioning, the other people talking, the television, the footsteps, the wind outside. Let it all encompass you.
See everything in the room. The patterns on the floor, the walls, the tables, the ceiling. See how it all connects as one giant Tetris game and yet some things are out of place: a cup, a toy, some trash, a crumb here and there.
Feel everything in the room, the weight of the floor, your clothes adjusting as you move, the wind of people passing you, the air conditioning blowing on your hair, the air from the door you just went through pressing against you.
Allow the smells some attention. What's changed? The people, the plastic of the toys, the dust from the vents, the kitchen smells, your own scent.
Remember your breathing?
Inhale and exhale...so simple, so easy.
Focus on that and let the other things fade in the room. Let the sounds go first, only hearing your breathing. The world is muted and your breathing is only allowed in. Fade the focus of your eyes to a point in the air in front of you, not seeing anything, everything in a blurred state. Close your mind to the smells, allowing nothing in.
Listen, feel, and focus only on your breathing. Let everything else go.
Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale.
For some, this is the world of autism. A safer, less hostile place than the world we live in. Things make sense there, a peace known only to its inhabitants. This world is different for every person, just as our perceptions, personalities and lifestyles are different. So, the world might be in video, where the characters of a favorite cartoon layer over reality, or it might be in pictures, where people are simply shapes that move in and out of the field of vision.
Our job, as parents, is to pull them from that peaceful place and force them to live in our world. A world that doesn't make sense, doesn't have fair rules, and doesn't follow through with its promises. Their world promises consistency, balance, and understanding. An understanding of need.
A need for things to line up as they should. And, in their world, they always do.
So, Autism, to me, means…I have a long road ahead of me, with no clear signposts to keep me from going astray. Holding my daughter’s hand, I gather up my willpower and my unending love, and attempt to guide my daughter through her world and into mine.