I had just asked my son Elijah, who is fifteen, to shut down his computer and the TV and go to sleep. The cartoons he was watching had a bunch of different voices and sound-effects that were driving us crazy, so he said, “Okay, Dad,” and then he shut them off in front of me and jumped into bed.
I closed his door and headed to my bedroom, when I heard that same racket coming from his room again. So I got really annoyed and stormed back to his room, opened his door and said, “I thought I told you to shut those stupid cartoons off!” But he was still in bed, and his computer and TV were still off. So I asked him what was going on.
“I just heard those crazy sounds again,” I told him. He sheepishly said, “Okay, okay, you caught me. It was me. ”
“What do you mean it was you?”
So he started to do four or five different voices, asking questions and answering them in full conversations, back and forth, body and facial expressions in full force. I stood in his doorway, smiling, and in awe, yet again.
I will share with you a view of a very gifted boy, who is entertaining, fascinating, hysterically funny, and sweet – or an unbelievable pain in the butt, depending on the binoculars you yourself construct.
A diagnosis of autism can be a deathblow to a parent, who might be left feeling like there is no hope whatsoever. I know; I’ve felt it. But not unlike Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, who is shown that jumping into an icy water death is not the right, or only, way to deal with such overwhelming grief, being handed a diagnosis of autism follows the same logic. In the film, Clarence says to Stewart’s character, “Look how things would have turned out without you.” It is only then that he realizes that this truly is “a wonderful life.”
It is our hope that you who are suffering have a “Clarence moment” that allows you to embrace your loved one’s autism day by day, and like a phoenix, rise up from what you may have felt were ashes. Through sharing our experiences and insights, and most importantly through the best medicine of all—laughter—we hope you find hope from our stories.