I have been so exhausted with juggling work and home. So I decided to take a day off last week and just relax and walk around in the mall. I was so thrilled because I wanted to pamper myself…maybe have a massage, pick up some beauty products etc. I just wanted a normal day, one without autism.
After about two hours of shopping and eating, I had a big smile on my face and I wanted to do the last thing on by to do list: massage. I grabbed my pina colada smoothie as I walked down the mall. Then all of a sudden, I hear commotion. A group of kids walked into the mall…some were really loud.
I remember seeing this tall lady, probably 15 years of age…stimming and I saw other kids struggling to just keep it together. I have seen this before…AUTISM. WTF!!! I was trying to get a day off from this. This very thing! I mean, it is everywhere. Everywhere I go, it’s there. I can’t seem to escape the fact that for now it is part of me. I can’t even get a DAY OFF without being reminded of this.
Despite the fact that I was mad, I just went with the flow. I tried to ignore it. I was walking in the same direction as the group. Then I saw all the people staring at the group of kids. There were faces of horror…like, “what is that?” There were faces of disappointment. At this time when this was ongoing, the teachers were holding the hands of these beautiful kids and ignored the stares. Then all of a sudden my anger on my DAY OFF just gave way. I broke. These people are staring at these kids as if they are disturbing their peace in PUBLIC PROPERTY. I felt as if those stares were directed towards me and towards my daughter who was in school at that time. We did not choose for our kids to end up this way. We did not choose for our kids to regress and then be slapped with the Autism label so that we can be shunned to obscurity. We did not choose this. We truly didn’t.
All of a sudden I felt tears run down my cheeks. Shoot! I could not be crying…I just wanted a normal day off. I wanted a day off from Autism. I then ran ahead and patted the back of one of the teachers or special edicators who was caring for 2 boys. She had an autism awareness jacket on. I gave her a hug and said, “My daughter has Autism. Thank you so much for the work you do” Then I ran away with tears flooding my eyes. Forget the massage. Who was I kidding? There is NO off day with this monstrous thing called Autism. Even if we try to push it to the darkest corner in our minds or hearts, there is no ignoring it. It is a loud, UGLY and cold disease. It simply can’t be ignored and there is nothing glamorous about it.
I remember crying in the car at the lights as I exited the mall. I cried to God, will this ever end? Will my child be one of those recovered kids I read about. Yes, I am doubting YOU God, in this moment. I know you can do it, but at this moment, I am in doubt. Then all of a sudden I heard one of my favorite songs on the radio. A sign?….then a car zooms past me. The two bumper stickers at the back state: GOD > (God is greater) Do you believe?