Thursday, April 02, 2009

World Autism Awareness Day: How Does Your Garden Grow? (The Beauty Is In the Dirt)

Today is World Autism Awareness Day and I have no earthly idea what to write. What more do I say about a neurological disorder that has taken my family captive, that has changed the way we do nearly everything? The fact that I often walk on eggshells around my children is due almost wholly to autism. But I write enough about that, you are probably sick of it. In fact, I don't know why you keep returning. Must be my ascerbic wit.

This week I took this picture. I like it very much. Why? Because it reminds me of my children. Of autism. Ok so now you think I'm crazy, right? How can a Gerbera daisy remind me of my children? .

I am not one who has a green thumb. In fact, I am really good at killing plants. If you want a lush garden, find someone else. But if you want a cactus destroyed, or the wrong plant pulled as a weed, I'm your gal. I should have a sign around my neck:

Plant Murderer

Yet sometimes, despite odds, things work. I suppose it's the law of averages, or maybe it's God, at work in the Universe. My daughter has a term for when she thinks God is talking to her. She calls it, "sending roses." Little things, that are too coincidental to be a coincidence...that's God, speaking. In this house, His words don't fall on deaf ears.

Two years ago, I planted annuals. Annuals are supposed to bloom for a season, then die off. If you want more flowers, you replant them. They are a burst of color, in an otherwise drab landscape. They are more or less here today, gone tomorrow. A bit of easy pleasure in the world, but transient, like chocolate cake. (What? Don't tell me that chocolate cake lasts longer than a week at your house?) Flowers provide a comfort for me, they remind me that the world is beautiful. It can be made up of some ugly stuff, but the parts together create beauty.

Take the dirt the flowers are's...dry. A bit rocky. But with a bit of water, it supports life. Small green shoots thrust against the fetid soil until they break the surface, bend toward the sun, and grow. Can you help the fragile plants become stronger? Soil can be fortified with minerals (and fertilizer!). Rocks can be removed. Regularly pulling plants that are threatening to overtake the flowers, rob them of their nutrients, can give the flowers a fighting chance.

How is this like autism? (Be patient, I'm almost to my point) It isn't easy to grow and flourish in autism, but against all odds, some kids do. And providing supports and tools for children who have autism has the same effect. I pull the weeds of confusing messages. I fertilize with social stories. I water copiously, with love. I prop with understanding. And my children bloom, where they are planted, even if sometimes that place is chock full of crap. And, in its own way, it's beautiful.

Now about my flowers? They survive. Not only do they survive, they are flourishing. I have an entire bed full of impatiens and a few Gerberas, too. And week after week, they continue to grow, and multiply. And despite the obstacles, they thrive. I don't do everything right, but still, there they are.

Kind of like my children.

T, who just wanted you to be aware

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