Hope by the Numbers.

Posted: May 22, 2015 in Humour
Tags: , ,

alex

7988 days ago, my wife gave birth to our first son. We called him Alex. He was crying, cradled in my arms, and I cried too. I had been dreaming about this day since I was five years old, 8827 days before this momentous day. After 270 days or so of pregnancy, we were ready to be parents.

Or so we thought.

For the first 2190 days of our boy’s life, our joy at being parents slowly turned to dismay then to horror and confusion. He progressed fairly well at first, but we slowly saw him withdraw back into himself, into his own personal mind-world. It was a tumultuous time to be sure. It was a time where we questioned our abilities, our parenting skills, our gene-pool, our luck, and our faith.

Alex, of course, has autism. And during those days, he was defined by his autism. He WAS autism. He barely spoke, had a plethora of problems, and was at times quite difficult to deal with. It’s not to say that there weren’t great moments, because there certainly were. It’s just that the challenges made for difficulties that we weren’t sure we would handle.

A little miracle came along 1909 days into Alex’s life. Our second son Mackie was born. And the change in Alex was almost immediate. Subtle at first, but as time went by, Alex made improvements we never thought would be possible. It is quite possibly the best thing that ever happened to us all.

As time has passed, Alex has continued to show us that he is NOT to be defined by autism. He is a person who happens to have autism. A slight yet important distinction. There are still times where we cry, where we despair for our son, where we wonder if this world of ours is ready to accept one such as he into the ranks of the gainfully employed. But let me tell you that these times are made fewer by the sheer will and abilities Alex exhibits to us each and every day.

Today, Alex finished a placement for his College course, which is in early childhood education. This 6-week placement really put his abilities to the test, as it was in a place where he was unknown, totally outside his comfort zone, where he had to be himself amongst people that didn’t know what that was. Despite doubts in himself, he faced this challenge like no other in his life. He employed all the skills and strategies he has learnt along the way, luckily prepared by his former school where he has been volunteering in order to gain experience. He met each day head-on, smiling and using his innate charm and kindness and etiquette and truly proved himself.

The class of grade one students gave him a book, which each person signed, as a gift. This book was their favorite book from which he read to them, regaling them using voices for the characters, making them laugh and feel at ease with this gentle giant. This class where he brought them treats and sang with them and prepared Mother’s Day crafts with. This boy with autism who every day did some ordinary things that were pretty extraordinary.

Alex has showed us all how compassion and patience are the keys to our very existence. Who among us can say that they never had help from someone along their path? We have all benefited in one way or another from a mentor or someone who believed in us, despite our awkward selves. And why shouldn’t Alex also benefit?

We are constantly reminded by these individuals that have been so kind and helpful for our son that the world is for the most part an awesome place to be. That it is in our nature to nurture. That good things can happen. That a child borne of autism can rise above his perceived inabilities and turn them into awesome abilities.

For those facing these challenges yourselves, remember the one four-letter word you should always cling to: hope. Without it, I’m not sure where we would be today. Use it, chase it, savour it.

Hope.

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