April is Autism Awareness Month.
You may know a lot or a little about Autism; you may know someone who has it, or maybe you have it yourself. I confess I didn’t know a whole lot about it before, or really hadn’t started learning about it more until recently when a family friend sent us some information on it. And it just happened to shed some light on a lot of my own struggles.
I have not been professionally diagnosed with Autism specifically, but I was diagnosed with Sensory-Integration-Dysfunction around the age of 5. We’ve pegged several of my “oddities” on that, but as we’re learning, Autism may cover more than we expected of my sensory “issues”. To explain a little more, I’ve never been great in people-situations, and after I’ve “peopled” I definitely have to decompress and process away from people. I get anxiety over social events of any kinds, sometimes even family get-togethers. Sometimes even talking to people online can be something I stray from on certain days – not because I don’t enjoy the person I’m talking to, but because it may seem daunting at times. And any form of change is hard on me – I found this on an Autism site: “People with autism often rely on routines and schedules, and can struggle with change or being flexible.” And that for me is very accurate.
So yes, I may be Autistic in several ways. And I’m finding that is okay. At first, I wondered if that made me even more different, if that makes sense. I know that sounds silly, but it made me think. When I thought of “autistic”, I didn’t used to think of me in that category. Because I feel normal. But I think that’s the point – no matter what level of Autism someone may have, or what level of anything, it *is* our normal. Sure, I can’t do things that some “normal” 22 year olds do, but I can do what God has me do. And that’s good.
I’ll admit, sometimes it is hard to accept this. Especially when I look outward instead of upward.
When I talk to some of my friends, I don’t have an “exciting life” to tell them about; a lot of my days are really…slow. Quiet. Yet busy in their own way. They’re my normal, but I don’t necessarily see them as “normal”. One friend is in college, and that’s great. Another friend has a job that she is dedicated to, and that’s fantastic too. It makes me proud of them and happy for them. But sometimes I feel like…their lives are moving, and mine isn’t. I’ll read a book where the main character is adventurous, and I wonder why I’m not. I compare.
But just because my life is different…that doesn’t mean it’s not adventurous or good, does it? No. It’s just…different. My kind of different. No, I don’t go to college, no I don’t have a job, or my driver’s license. Yes, that’s due to my “oddities”. My differences. But that’s not wrong. That’s not un-adventurous. And I’ve decided I need to stop making excuses for myself. I need to stop denoting my life as boring just because it’s not other people’s normal. Their normal is their normal – what a beauty that is. And my normal is my normal. Which means a lot of days staying home, spending my time with my family working on home/farm projects, writing in my stories, getting chores done, running errands with my family, and reading lots of books. This is my normal. And it isn’t bad.
Whatever is YOUR normal – embrace it. This is the life God has given you, and it is good.
I’d also like to share the link to a great post on Autism Awareness that author Pepper Basham wrote. You can visit it HERE. :)