Yesterday, Ashlyn and I had a great car talk. We had a long ride home, the little ones where falling asleep and I can’t remember how it came up but we started talking about what she feels people do not understand about her. She amazed me, not for the first time, with how well she is able to articulate how it feels to be her. Here was her list…
1) I just want to be like everyone else
2) I listen the best when I don’t have to look at you
This is the one that blew me away…
3) My art teacher says “Draw what you know not what you think. Don’t draw what you think a tree looks like, draw what you see when you look at a tree.” That is how I am, don’t tell me something if it is what you think, only tell me it if it is a fact. It is too hard for me to figure out the other stuff.
There have been a million times when Ashlyn has gotten upset over something not happening like it was supposed to and I always thought it was just the change in schedule and never thought about the deeper meaning of why. The more we talked about #3, she helped me to understand that it has so much more to do with needing things to be concrete and factual. So telling her “I think we might go to the park” is like nails on a chalkboard. Either we are going or we are not, she does not need the fluffy stuff in between and I can appreciate that.
The list continued with things like “I don’t like cleaning my room” and “I want to be on the honor roll” and other less philosophical statements but I thought that what she started with was amazing. I wish there was someone like her for me to talk to when she was younger and could not articulate what it was like to live in her world. Teenage Ashlyn could have helped me out immensely with little Ashlyn.
I have been thinking about our conversation all day and about the journey we have been on that has gotten us to where we are today, a few weeks shy of her 8th grade graduation. Ashlyn and autism have taught me so much.
So I am adding this to my long list of things that Ashlyn has taught me…
There is no perfect road to follow and no matter what path you take it is a long, bumpy, exhausting ride. But there will be a day like this, when you feel the rewards of all of your travel and you can look at the only tour guide you’ve ever had and thank God that they are able to read you part of the map.
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