Sunday, May 19, 2013

Autism Answer: Meltdown on Aisle Four!

Author's note: I wrote this for my Facebook fans on April 30, 2013. This was one of a few posts dedicated to my hopes for the awareness I would love to see raised during autism awareness month!

I have four brothers who were on the autism spectrum. I have four sons, two of whom were once autistic too. And so I am no stranger to the grocery store meltdown!!

How I chose to handle public meltdowns depended on many different things. My mood, which person was melting down, how much coffee I'd had, how much I'd already asked the autistic individual to handle, and more...

I have gotten many learning's (along with confused and curious stranger stares!) from these moments and my handling of them. I've learned about my family, my community and myself.

And now when I see other moms, dads, sisters, grandpas, boyfriends and individuals struggling to contain or assist what appears to be some sort of meltdown, I choose to never judge. Not because maybe someone is autistic, or maybe someone has a sensory challenge--but because most likely the people are doing the best they can in the moment. Using the beliefs and knowledge and hopes they have at that time. And I know well how  much easier it is when we aren't feeling the judgments and uncomfortable stares of others.

Sometimes I am even able to offer help! Not "poor you" help, or "let me show you how it's done" help... just "hey, I have an extra hand and a minute to spare" help!

One of the greatest gifts I have chosen to accept as an autism sister, mom, daughter and friend, is an invitation to open my eyes and see past symptoms and behaviors. I can't possibly imagine a more all encompassing, soul quenching gift!!

We're at the end of Autism awareness month, and I hope to share that kind of awareness--now and throughout the year! 

Be aware that we are never happy or useful when judging others. And we are gifted and truly living when we reach out to learn from and offer our own value in return!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!