“It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a child with autism to raise the consciousness of the village.”
—Elaine Hall, educator and parenting coach
My three-year-old is almost completely nonverbal. Every day when she gets off the bus, I ask her the same question: I ask her how her day was, and every day I get the same answer: ”Momma, I ride bus.”
I ask her what she had for lunch and who she played with. I ask her if she went outside or made a new friend. No matter what I ask her, her answer is always the same: ”Momma, I ride bus.”
I'll admit when she was first diagnosed with Autism, I cried a lot. And when she worked for months with Birth to Three — a program for infants and toddlers with disabilities — with not much improvement, I cried some more. When school started and I realized just how far behind the other kids she really was, there were more tears. I don't know whether I cried for her or if I cried for myself.
I get angry when people mistreat my daughter, or ask me what's wrong with her. I get mad when people avoid her and parents pull their kids away. I struggle when I don't know how her day was or if she has made new friends or if anyone plays with her at all.
But all I really want is for my kids to be happy and healthy. Her health is great. And each day when she gets off the bus, she says with as much joy as she did the very first day and with as much enthusiasm as she can muster: ”Momma, I ride bus!" And for me, shouldn't her joy be enough?
Oh Great Spirit of the Earth, may we find as much joy in the simple pleasures of life as if we were a small child experiencing some great joy for the very first time.