My son has always had his nose pressed against the glass, separated from what passes for normalcy by a thin, transparent barrier that nevertheless is a barrier. Unlike a lot of people I’ve met who are on the autism spectrum, he’s been aware of his place in the world, always looking, never joining.
He understands blessing/curse analogies, as do I. Some high-functioning autistic people do just fine with a reality hall pass, socially inept, maybe, but able to wander more or less through life in an unremarkable (sometimes remarkable) way, their strange ways tolerated and accepted and often oblivious to themselves. They’re protected from the harshness of square pegs and round holes by a laser focus on life, and some of them do really well.
Eight years ago, we were told by kind and patient professionals that he’d probably always need help, that independence of any normal sort would be awkward and probably not achievable. I thought this was too pessimistic, but then I’m his dad.
So I just sit here this morning, aware that he’s not here, he’s having breakfast at IHOP with some buddies from work, following their graveyard shift. And I think a little about qualities that serve us all well. Willingness. Discipline. Ambition, hope, dreams.
Mostly patience, I think, and perspective. Sometimes a window is a window, and sometimes, it looks like a door.