When everything feels all over
When everybody seems unkind
I'll give you a four leaf clover
Take all the worry out of your mind
Let my love open the door
To your heart
The desperate woman ignored the banging at the door and hid in the filthy house. The food in the refrigerator was rotten. There was a dead bird with an open wound lying on the floor. The stench was overwhelming.
But she was afraid.
Afraid to open the door.
Afraid of what the world outside might do to her eight year-old son, the beautiful boy who was stricken with autism.
So she kept him home. He never attended school. Never went to a doctor.
According to news reports, the police did finally get in. And they took the little boy where he could be clean and fed. Where he could get some help. Where maybe, just maybe, he could get better.
Of course, they took his mom to jail. No doubt, she had neglected her child in the eyes of the law. Is she mentally ill? Possibly. Is what she did wrong?
But as an self-described, overprotective autism mom I felt a twinge of empathy for this woman. Sometimes I want to shut and bar the door too.
After all, isn’t this the world where catholic priests take out restraining orders again autistic teenagers, banning them from worship?
Isn’t this the world where a kindergarten teacher instructs her class to vote on whether or not a special needs child should remain in their class?
Isn’t this the world where a Republican Congressman blocks insurance legislation in Oklahoma, declaring that children with autism will eventually “all just be wards of the state anyway?”
Isn't this the world where the director of my then two year-old son's prestigious, "Christian" preschool pulled me aside and whispered "You know, I just don't think Jack belongs here..."
No information about red flags or early intervention. No "How can I help?" Just a push out the door for him and his bewildered mom.
That was early in my journey into Autismville. I was just stepping into the shadows.
Two years later, some days they look more ominous than ever.
So much misunderstanding.
But, as Martin Luther King said, "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. "
So I’ll treasure the flashes of sunlight like when Amy’s classmate rode home with us and went on and on about how cool it was that she actually got to ride with Jack. She’d never met someone with autism after all. So cool.
Or when Amy’s teacher allowed her to read the book she wrote about her brother to each of the second grade classes while they studied a unit called Understanding Our Differences. Amy felt like a rock star. The kids ate it up. They raised their hands high over their heads and asked question after question.
This world is imperfect. But love overcomes it all. It's a soothing balm on the injuries inflicted by misunderstanding.
Sunlight casting out the shadows....
Pouring in through the crack of the open door.