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fair2016bThrough the years in our little family, there has been a subtle but growing attitude of autism being not okay. Blue Eyes and I — and, for that matter, Joseph’s school and doctors and therapists and specialists — have all attempted to “normalize” this kid. And it’s succeeded pretty well. This school year the last major sign of “I’m different” got removed when Joseph insisted that he no
longer wanted an aide. The school staff, bless them, respected his decision and has pretty well phased the aide out. It’s going okay — his academics have declined but we’ve never expected him to be a scholar, and his level of independence has increased dramatically. At this point you’d have to sit down and get to know him a bit before you could figure out that he’s not exactly typical.

Cause for celebration, right? Well, hold on, hoss, because we are being shown another perspective.

Blue Eyes and I just completed a fabulous 4-day playshop (as opposed to workshop) on awakening to presence. Wow! Life is different when you tune into that expanded awareness, that conscious presence, and truly grok that you embody it at all times. Many gifts were received during the playshop, and one of those was our attitude toward autism.

We were talking about how sound can be a doorway to presence: music, gongs, nature sounds, etc. The instructor pointed out how we tend to filter sound rather than allowing all sound to be in our awareness and to help us access presence. During the break, I asked the instructor, John Mark Stroud, about autistic people, who often can’t filter sound.

He said that most autistic people were highly advanced souls who couldn’t quite fit the whole “typical” scene. He said that many came in with amazing gifts — not savants, but highly gifted.

Nice, right? Well, I didn’t think so. With incredible resistance I responded that it was hard to imagine a 14 year-old in diapers as an advanced soul and that no, they didn’t come with gifts.

Later, Spirit (and Blue Eyes — thank you, honey) spoke to me about that strong reaction. I realized that, of the autistic kids I know, there truly are gifts. One is amazing at technology. Another plays the piano so beautifully it can make you swoon. Our own kiddo deeply loves, and is so loved back, by his classmates. His imagination and creativity are incredible.

As I opened to that, Blue Eyes and I had conversations about how we’ve normalized Joseph — and was that a good idea? I mean, how great is this “normal” life anyway? We spoke again to John Mark, who suggested that we tune in with Joseph on a soul level when we’re with him (and when we’re not). He suggested that we let Joseph teach us some of his gifts, that we appreciate the amazing soul he is. That we step out of the parent role and enjoy being presence together. That we open to the soul agreement we’ve had to incarnate together as a family.

For many months there has been major tension between Blue Eyes and Joseph. But that evening at home, they sat together on the couch and there was peace. Joseph’s stomach was hurting, and Blue Eyes brought him a bowl and helped him while he vomited a few times. It’d been years since Joseph vomited, and later, when I asked him how he felt, he said he’d gotten the bad stuff out and felt better.

We mentioned this incident to John Mark the next day – how Joseph had maybe eaten a bad burger at the restaurant. John Mark said that no, what had happened was that Joseph was vomiting out the toxicity that had been in our relationship with him. Wow, what a perspective.

Since then, it’s been a whole new relationship. Joseph still flaps his hands and jumps around autistically when he’s excited or creative, but it doesn’t trigger us. In fact, it seems pretty cool. I had the opportunity to give one of Joseph’s friends, another kid with autism, a big birthday hug, and I could feel his energy rising up his spine when he felt my unconditional love.

Something stiff in me has melted. Last night I thanked Joseph for coming to be with Blue Eyes and me, and he responded very simply with “You’re welcome.” Later, when Blue Eyes said good night to him, Joseph said, “Thanks, Dad.” He didn’t say for what, but Blue Eyes knew. Thanks for opening to who he is, thanks for appreciating the gift he is and the gifts he brings.

I woke at 3:00 this morning and asked Spirit why I was awake. The response was that my soul was longing to express this. Thank you for reading. I pray that, if autism is in your life, you too may open to the soul agreement you and your beloved made to be together, and that the gift of it fills your heart.

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I am on a cleanse. It’s for health reasons. This is a more drastic cleanse than I’ve been on in years, in that you don’t eat even one shred of food. You drink lemon juice, water, maple syrup and cayenne, but you don’t eat. I’m on day 3 of a 10-day journey.

I just popped a gluten free bagel into the toaster for Joseph. When it popped up, I stopped and inhaled deeply the scent of bagel — which, even being gluten free, smelled good to me in my current condition. Still, while I enjoyed the scent, it didn’t clutch at my heart, or even at my stomach. I was happy to butter it and hand it over to Joseph, free of attachment.

Why? Because I’m at choice.

I choose to be on this cleanse. It is making me feel better. Therefore, I intentionally shut off the part of my mind that desires food. It amazes me that this can happen.

Being at choice is empowering. There’s no resistance or struggle, because one is actively making the choice. It gets the energy going in a positive, upward direction. Grace can happen when one is at choice.

So, I ask myself, where in my life am I most not at choice? In other words, where am I most disempowered? Where is the most resistance and struggle?

Ohhh, I immediately know the answer: In my relationship with autism. With Joseph, and the fact that he has autism.

Why do I bother struggling with reality, I wonder. Resistance is, well and truly, futile.

Byron Katie’s work comes to mind. She says if she ever gets a thought that might be stressful, she questions it very specifically. I’m applying her questions to this predicament:

Joseph should not have autism. Is it true?

Yes, it’s true! No one should have this debilitating disorder! No one should have to be the parent of a kid with this disorder!

Joseph should not have autism. Can I be absolutely sure that this is true?

Oh crap, I can’t know for sure that it’s true. Maybe, in a cosmic perspective, he should have autism.

Joseph should not have autism. How do I react when I believe that thought?

Massive inner turmoil. Cramping in my stomach. A tight heart.

Who would I be without that thought?

More peaceful. Accepting. Open.

Then we turnaround the “Joseph should not have autism” statement.

Maybe Joseph should have autism? No, I mean, maybe he should have autism. No, not maybe. Here we go:

Joseph should have autism.

How do I know? Because he does!

Ok, this is not sitting perfectly with me, but I’m going to work on it. I don’t want to look at sensitive, impressionable Joseph with all these negative judgments floating around my aura. I want to look at him with unconditional acceptance.

I want to be at choice with autism.

One of my favorite Byron Katie quotes is, If you fight with reality, you always lose. She interchanges the word reality with God. The way I see it, resisting reality is resisting, and shutting out, God. Being at choice, on the other hand, opens up the door between me and God. Therefore I am choosing my son to be exactly the way he is. When I do this, I can feel my heart open and the grace pouring through.

This is a choice I plan to consciously make every day, or every time I need to, until it becomes such a habit that I don’t need to think about it anymore.

When I look at Joseph I’m going to think, I choose you.

When something is really great, Australians say, “CHOOOOIIIICCCCE.”  Now I see why.