Today in our chiropractor’s office, there probably weren’t 10 total people in the room – including the chiropractor, his office manager, and us – but an interesting convergence of experiences made itself known. It’s still noteworthy to me, but I’ve found – much to my pleasant surprise – that things like this really aren’t that uncommon.
During the short time we were there, we shared a nice conversation with this wonderful older woman whose 50-year-old son is autistic. Her voice rose from a deep well of experience and wisdom, and came with a reassurance to us autism newbies that everything will turn out in wonderful ways we can’t yet imagine.
We already knew the office manager’s teenage daughter is autistic, and it’s been a joy to talk to her and swap all sorts of great stories. Talking to other parents with our shared experience is just so much less work than talking to anyone else. We can be ourselves and finally have real conversation. The fact that her daughter is much older than the J-Man also allows us to learn from someone else who has been down the path we’re still new to.
Then we met a man who I guess is roughly 50. He gave us the name of a woman very experienced with autistic people who he highly recommended if we needed someone more expert than a regular child care provider during the J-Man’s school breaks.
I find it noteworthy in general when I meet someone who strikes me as kind, thoughtful, caring, and completely without pretense. I sensed all of that in him before he got around to saying anything about himself. Then when he said he was higher-functioning autistic, it filled me with a warmth I needed today. I thought about the J-Man offering generous help like that to another family 50 years from now. Clear and caring words from a good heart. It gave me the sort of long-range perspective I need sometimes.
I know they say you only really become aware of something when it’s important to you – like when you notice lots of blue Honda Civics everywhere as soon as you want to buy one. I know these particular people and many, many more like them were out there before we started along this path and surround us in varying degrees of anonymity each day. Regardless, today reminded me that whether your child is autistic or you are autistic yourself, you are never alone.
We are indeed surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. We may think ourselves strange, but we are never strangers to each other.