I've been doing the weekly autism blog post every April for years now and this was the first time I shared posts written from other people's perspective. Even though these are all people in my life it was interesting and moving to read their words and see what they see. I'm glad we did it this way and I hope that if you've been reading the posts that you've enjoyed them as well.
I waffled back and forth a lot before asking the author to share his perspective for this post. The other three were written from the perspective of family member or a long time family friend. Also, all grown ups. But this last one, the last perspective I wanted us to hear, is from one of Sam's peers.
Community has always been a big deal to Sam and even before he became a student at Trinitas he knew everybody. He would pour over the girls' yearbooks each year memorizing names and faces. Community has been a big deal for us too as we have walked this journey on the road of autism. Life with autism is a beautiful complication made easier through the communities of family and friends.
We wouldn't be where we are with Sam if it hadn't been for the love and support of the people around us.
It is a whole other blog post to explain what I mean about community and maybe I will write it in the future, but for now let me just make it clear that I am not talking about tolerance. It's not enough to just have people around you that are willing to overlook or humor certain autistic behaviors. Understanding limitations and taking them into account is one thing, low expectations and excuse making is another.
When I asked the parents of one of Sam's classmates about writing something for this series I knew it was risky, it felt more vulnerable. But we also trusted this family because we've seen the way they've raised this young man and the kindness he has always shown Sam. We've seen him reach out to try and help Sam deal with a hard minute or just include him in the day to day life at school. (I should note that while I did ask this family to write the blog post specifically it's not just because he is the only one to treat Sam this way. Thankfully, this is the norm for our school community to varying degrees.)
From Clark ~
Having Sam in my class is both challenging and enjoyable. You always have to remember that you have to treat him differently and that some things he cannot control. You have to forgive the things that annoy you and always remember that you are friends. You cannot laugh at things that are not normal and you cannot allow your other classmates to lead you astray. Everyone has their highs and lows, Sam is no exception. While he might struggle in some areas his cartoons are a gift from God. Where I can only draw stick figures, Sam can create incredible comics and never runs out of clever dialogue with witty puns and plays on words to go with them. He is very gifted and a good friend.
Short and sweet and to the point, huh? But it so perfectly reflects some truths that I think we can all be reminded of. Loving people, being in relationship with each other whether there is autism or not, requires something from us. We have to be forgiving. We all annoy each other sometimes. We all can be thoughtless or unaware. We need to be willing to see beyond our differences. We need to look for the good in each other.
In a nutshell we all need grace. This isn't the first time we've seen that life could be a little sweeter if we all lived a little more autistically.
A Father's Perspective A Sister's Perspective A Teacher's Perspective