So many have autism. And so many times, the story is full of challenge, hopelessness, bitterness, and just plain despair. They say that if you have met someone with autism that you have just met someone with autism. It’s not as if you’ve met one you’ve met them all! Each one has a different story.
Maggie was first grader. She was lively and energetic. She cried as though the world was caving in when she lost her hat. She couldn’t write her name without it looking like chicken scratch. Her belly laugh bounced off the walls right in the middle of a spelling test. She could read way past the first grade Little Bear books.
But one day, she was Goldilocks in our first grade play. We performed it for the second grade. One of the second grade girl’s mother had just died. The girl laughed every time ‘Goldilocks” came on the stage. At the end of the play, Maggie took a bow and everyone applauded loudly. Maggie, the one who made the girl laugh, was someone with autism.
Henry could yell, laugh, scream, and groan. He had to be watched like a hawk or he might run away or grab something he shouldn’t. There was never a word that came from his mouth. One day, a caretaker was reading to him. . He let out a few grunts and giggles. Did he understand what he heard? The caretaker had no idea. Maybe just the sound of her voice was enough. When the story finished, Henry put his hands on his caretaker’s hands. He groaned. He let out a YIPE! “YAH!”
“What is it Henry? What are you trying to tell me? ” asked the caretaker.
“YAH! WA!” Henry said. .
“YAH! WAH!” Henry said.
At that moment, his caretaker knew. Henry wanted what all children who have just heard a story that they really liked want and was saying what they would say- “Read it again!”
I wish I knew to this day what story she had been reading. I wondered if I would say ‘read it again’ just like Henry did. Henry is someone who has autism.
She used too speak in tongues and still does sometimes. She’d rather have the wind comb her hair than a hairbrush. She cares little about matching her clothes and looks the other way or digs her heels into the floor when she sees someone she knows. To this day, she cannot add 2 plus two in her head. She has a handful of friends and seems to “live” in story land sometimes.
One day, she was eating lunch in the cafeteria. Her friends began to joke.
“Don’t you think I look like Jesus?” a friend asked.
She should a picture that she had drawn. She had written her name at the top, then crossed her name out and put ‘Jesus’.
“I don’t!” one girl shouted.
Later in class, the girl who shouted “No”! wrote an email.
If you really want to know who Jesus is. Then just ask me. I will tell you. Please don’t make fun of Jesus.
That girl’s name was Goldi. She is someone with autism.
I’ve learned it easy to believe that Maggie, Henry, Lilly, Goldi or any other someone with autism is not just someone with autism but a great someone– because they have autism.
And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.