riding bikes

Blue Eyes is from a little island in the South Pacific and I am a California girl. We met somewhere in the middle: India, where we were both on spiritual quests. After spending a good chunk of time together there, we went trekking in Nepal and then stayed in Thailand for a while. Four months after we parted, I went to his country and lived there for six months. Then he came to the US to live.

In other words, we love adventure! It is one of the things that drew us together and something that we find really fun.

So it is an odd thing to have a child who is, at best, uncomfortable in new surroundings and, at worst, will scream and melt down or withdraw into his own world in order to cope.

Blue Eyes and I did a lot of scheming on how we could get around this. How can you travel and have a comfortable familiarity at the same time? We finally settled on buying an old recreational vehicle (RV), which we fixed up. Kids love RVs, so we had that going for us right away. And this way we could go new places, but we always slept in the same place and, more often than not, ate in the same place as well.

It took some resilience, but at last our scheme seems to have paid off. Joseph knows the RV routine and is very comfortable in it. He likes the little bathroom (and uses it, if you get my drift) and sleeps well in his little bed. It’s not crossing the Nile or sleeping with the African lions, but here we are, on the coast, having a great time with our trusty old RV.

It is good to break Joseph out of the same old routine. The autistic mind tends toward the static. Many of these kids, Joseph included, train their parents into keeping things just the same — that way we avoid tantrums, fits, meltdowns, etc.

After I was well-trained by Joseph, RDI came in and trained me differently, teaching me to shake things up for Joseph so that he learned how to adapt to, and be more comfortable with, dynamic situations.

You don’t want to push your kid off the cliff and say, “Deal!” but you do want to shake the foundations a bit so that they learn how to dance.

Even though I love the travel type of adventure, I don’t adjust so well to other changes. The one I can think of off the top of my head (!), for example, is having a child with autism. What a HUGE shake-up this has been for me. I went through all of those lovely stages of grief, and I think I am only now starting to land on the last stage: acceptance.

There is a saying: we cling to a spiritual teacher because our foundation is being shaken — only to find out that it is the teacher who is shaking our foundation.

Sigh. What if it’s true? What if my kid having autism isn’t an accident — what if it’s truly what has been given to me, and him, and Blue Eyes, and the world at large?

I am coming to a new conclusion. Of course we should work toward Joseph being all he can be, but at the same time I am focusing on being grateful for what has been given, knowing it is intended for me, and asking for nothing more than that in this moment.

It is becoming readily apparent that adventurous souls don’t have to travel outwardly to learn and to grow: God provides inner adventure, as well. With all the changing landscape of motherhood and autism, my “RV” has been meditation and prayer — holding onto that Divine Presence, as best I can, through it all.

At this point, when both feet are touching this new ground of greater acceptance, I give humble thanks for the privilege of this adventure. God’s got the topo map, but I can listen to His/Her inner guidance and take one step at a time.

I am starting to trust that even the shaking foundation is taking me where I want to go: ever closer to, ever deeper in, Spirit.