There are moments in my life where the exact opposite of what I think should happen, or the way things should work, is actually the best way. There are times when, rationally, it seems as if a certain course of action makes sense, and then suddenly you feel asked, told, or compelled to do the opposite. I experienced one of these times recently.
We took Taylor to the fair three days ago. I know… the fair. With my dad, he is amazingly manageable, which makes things like the fair possible, even if it’s in a modified experience. But Taylor is, at times, manageable by nobody. At least not emotionally manageable and definitely not physically manageable.
We (meaning everyone else, because I’m a big chicken.) rode rides. We walked around. He waited in lines…patiently. It was a success.
It was a success.
He waited in line for the bumper cars so patiently, calmly, and even quietly. It was his group’s turn to go on, and he sat down in the car of his choice… the only car that wasn’t working. My dad was with him and was told by the operator that he had to find a different car. He was told that they couldn’t even just sit in the broken car while the others were driving. I understand that. There are rules. I have no problem with them at all.
Taylor, however, decided to hold his ground, and proceeded to scream, kick, and push my dad away when he was trying to get Taylor into a different car. He really really wanted that one. People were waiting, and I didn’t know what to do. I was filming at the time and I stopped when I realized something was wrong. I know that sometimes when I need Taylor to get in the car, I say “Sit in your seat.” and he knows that we are going to drive somewhere. So I walked up right into the line without slowing. As I walked through, a lady told everybody, “Move out of the way. That’s her son.” I hadn’t said anything; she just knew, and I appreciated her help and support. I went in to the arena, and tried my “Sit in your seat.” attempt. It wasn’t successful, but I think it would have been if I had more time. But he needed to get out right then. My dad is very strong and he finally resorted to lifting my 100+lb son out of the car and into the other one. At least he was going to get to ride.
In times like this, I have put on my stoic, strong, calm, and assured front, trying to fool people that I am in charge and have everything under control. I show no signs of being affected by what’s happening.
But, that day was different. As I stood in the bumper car arena, I got misty-eyed. It then started to turn to small tears, and I started to do my thing and fight to hide it. I then heard a small voice in my heart. God told me “Cry. Let them see you. They need to know. They need to understand.” So with a line of people watching as if I were on a stage, as well as everyone seated in the cars, I let go. I was real. I was vulnerable. I cried. Not ugly snot-crying. I had limits 😉 . I just didn’t hide the tears that fell, and the redness of my eyes.
How often are we exposed to the “I’m strong, I got this.” approach to an autism meltdown? I’m not saying keeping it together isn’t good or necessary at times, but I wasn’t needed at the time. I was looking on, my heart breaking for my son. He was so excited to ride those cars.
Why is it, that after the urgency of the meltdown passes, do we constantly act as if we are so strong that it doesn’t phase us?
What if people need to see us cry?
…To see us feel?
What would happen then? How is anyone, who doesn’t know the experience of autism, supposed to show empathy and understanding if they don’t see what to empathize with? How will they know we feel if we never show them?
We autism parents are strong. But sometimes the best way to show it is by being weak. Vulnerable.
Those people at the fair, got to see into the eyes of an autism parent. They got to see the pain first hand, that they had probably never seen before. I believe God used my tears to build compassion up in those people. And if even just one person was reached, that was worth every vulnerable tear.
That was the end to Taylor’s somewhat brief visit to the fair. I look back on it with satisfaction. He got to ride on a number of rides, and I was able to be used to create a place of compassion in others. It was a good day.
As always, positive comments are welcome. Negative hurtful comments will be trashed before I can even finish reading them. I have many readers who are emotionally vulnerable, and I will not post comments that will further harm.
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