But other days…when transitions are hard and fun activities disintegrate into melt downs. When a non-preferred activity causes a tantrum that lasts the entire weekend, or when a request to play outside is denied because of a thunderstorm and we spend the next hour in bed huddled under a therapy blanket. On those days I fight to keep this singular thought from taking root in my heart: We don’t deserve this.
Because of course, no one does.
And for better or worse…Autism is a part of who you are. If it was possible to separate this dragon from your castle I would slay it with my bare hands just to hear you tell me about your day. Just to know that you would tell me if you were hurt, scared, or sad. Just to be sure that you understand us when we tell you how much we love you.
But the fact of the matter is that this dragon is both strong, and wonderfully magical. And since he has made his home in you we’ve had no choice but to befriend him, admire his beauty, and do our best to avoid the flames.
One day I hope you will find the words to tell us the whole story, the one I know is forming in your beautiful mind. I hope your bright eyes and endless laughter mean that the story is a happy one, and that you don’t hold the bad moments against us. That you will forgive us for the things that we have had to say and do to keep you safe in these years where our communication has been so limited and your behavior so unpredictable.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…” Revelation 3:20
We have a picture in our house, Danny: Christ at Heart’s Door
by Warner Sallman. It came from my Grandparent’s house – a place as sacred to me as a child as my parent’s house is to you now. I asked to keep it because the lesson behind the picture has always been profound to me. In the image, Jesus is standing outside a closed door surrounded by flowers and light. I remember staring at this picture as a little girl trying to figure out what was so special about it. When I eventually realized that the wooden door didn’t have a knob, I asked my Grandmom why. She answered that it was the door to the heart – those doors can only be opened from the inside.
You are a fan of doors, little man. It was your very first interest and is still your “go-to” activity when you are stressed or upset. Your doors have enabled many things in our lives. They were the foundation that our first games and communications were built on so your Dad and I…well, we’re fans of doors too. The thing is – most of the time no one is allowed to touch your doors. You stand on one side of whatever you have created and call for us to come through. You have always been the gate keeper.