April is Autism Awareness Month and although once upon a time, April showers bringing May flowers was all this winter hating mother cared about, now, that I have a 1 in 42 boy with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, April has a whole new meaning to me.
Upon first learning of my Ryan's diagnosis, I felt like the light had been sucked from my world, and I was surrounded in cold, rainy darkness. It took time, patience, acceptance, and understanding for me to pull myself out of the rain and find the sun again. And just like spring, when the dark clouds finally roll away and the world begins to wake up to a feeling of new, I awoke to a world I never knew existed, yet couldn’t imagine my life without.
These “differences” make people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder as brilliant and beautiful as all the colors of the rainbow. Think about it, how boring would a rainbow be, if it were all red or all blue? It’s the variations, or the differences in color that make rainbows worth slamming on your brakes in the middle of a highway and risking your life for a photo to share on Instagram.
As a mother of a child with an ASD, I once feared “different”. I had trouble seeing the beauty of different because I wanted “same”. I worried that different would mean hardship, struggles and lack of understanding. Sometimes that fear was for my son, and sometimes that fear was selfishly, for me. I didn’t know different. I didn’t understand different. I feared different. Maybe, an all blue rainbow wouldn’t be so bad after all, if it meant “different” became “same”.
Although after a grey, dreary winter, I would love a spring time full of only sunny days, but, without rain, there would only be boring white light. Without rain, there would be no spectrum of colors. Without rain there would be no differences. Without rain, there would only be same. To appreciate the colors, there has to be rain.
So this April, if you see a rainbow, don’t go rushing to the end to find the elusive pot of gold, sit back and take in the spectrum of colors and appreciate each different color. And while out shopping for your spring time annuals, if you see “different” at the checkout line next to you, give the mom a smile and let her know that you understand that some days different is hard, some days different is heartbreaking, some days different is beautiful, and some days different is just, well…different.