It was about 3:00 in the afternoon and the school bus had just arrived. I ran outside in my sandals, without a jacket. After all, it’s spring. The only reason I didn’t run back inside after stepping out the door was the fact that the school bus driver had seen me and opened the door. Shivering, I ran to the bus.
It reminded me of this little cutie, expressing his disappointment at the weather. We all wish the seasons would just cooperate with our expectations, not be extreme, and not last longer (or shorter) than we want! But they do what they want. And we get to choose how to respond. This winter, I got many opportunities to choose my attitude to winter (I’m definitely a warm weather girl), and I got to make this choice for far longer than I wanted!
This is my birthday month. It’s one of three times each year that I stop to look back and look forward. I haven’t done my assessment yet this year, but I know one thing: Some of what I’d hoped to have done by this age, I haven’t yet done. The season of preparing and thinking and figuring things has lasted longer than I had planned. Before I could start to obsess on missed goals, my loving Father used my son to remind me of what I really believe about seasons.
Seasons in AutismLand
Autism means that the traditional developmental windows disappear. The toddler years may last way beyond the terrible twos, and who knows when puberty may end. When everyone around you has children with typical development, the reminders about what your child (and you) are not come frequently and loudly. This gap is made complicated by time passing. Time passes, but the season doesn’t. In so many ways, it’s still winter.
So what do you do when its winter? Put on your winter coat and stay warm. You don’t try to do summer things. That would be dangerous. In autism land, it meant hoping for tomorrow while planning for today. Today, we may have an early night meltdown. We prepare for it and keep our preparations handy.
With my son, I’m really good at ignoring all references (from friends, school and therapists) to "same age peers." No need for the milestone chart. The only thing that's important is knowing where we are now, and where we want to go next. Comparison is the thief of joy. Especially comparison to a target that’s moving away from you. Anxiety and all its companions hover over my desires to be in the next season. That time when the baby is sleeping through the night, speaking his thoughts, or regulating her emotions instead of hitting. Somehow, the straining out of the present, wishing for the future, was the recipe for upheaval and distress. Coming to peace with autism meant learning to allow my son to run his race and knowing my place in that race. My role is to hope.
Seasons in Real Life
How does this translate to the late arrival of spring and related goals? Well …
- Seasons do exist …“a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to weep and a time to laugh… a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:1 – 8)
- Knowing the season means being present to what is happening now. It also means seeing God in the now, and hearing what He’s saying through the present moment. LISTEN
- Acting on what God is saying now, for the current season, is the best preparation for the new one you’re hoping for. ACT
- The new season is coming. We might miss it, if we aren’t hoping for it. HOPE
So if you are in a winter season that’s taking a long time, or your spring has come, but the trees don’t know it yet (no leaves), or you suspect the warm weather is fading fast, I pray that you will be still, LISTEN for the season’s word, ACT on it, and HOPE in the Eternal One and the good plan that He has, for both you and your child.
Faith coaches, consults, and creates experiences that help others sustain clear, strategic action. She’s co-founder of Melody of Autism, which helps ASD families thrive. She coaches autism mompreneurs on holistic strategic clarity that integrates autism mom life and business. She’s author of Parenting Like a Ninja, an autism mom’s guide to professional productivity, and can be found at faithclarke.com and melodyofautism.com.