Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Autism Awareness Month (Part III)

Happily Ever After...

When I was a little girl, I used to read fairytales about Cinderella and Snow White, and I misinterpreted these stories thinking that, as long as I am nice and kind and kissed by a prince, I will live happily ever after… 

Ah, I think, why wasn’t I born a princess?..  Was I not nice enough?.. Was my husband not a prince?..

Well, life is no fairytale … or is it? Did I completely ignore that Cinderella and Snow White suffered through the difficulties and overcame all the obstacles created by evil stepmother, or sisters, or the queen? Or maybe I just always knew that they had fairies, animals and dwarfs to help them and, in the end everything would turn out to be fine, and that the happiness forever after was waiting for Cinderella and Snow White… But don’t things in life always work out somehow? Don’t we find the way and the will to overcome whatever challenge we encounter? And don’t we come out stronger and better?

But who were my fairies and dwarfs?

In the past four years I discovered how powerful the unconditional love is, and how powerful humanity is.

For some reason, many of us feel ashamed to ask for help, thinking that somehow it makes us look and feel weak. I was not an exception to this perception, but was faced with no choice. I was powerless. And when I asked for help,  to my big surprise, it came from so many people. Some trained me, some advised me, some shared their experience with me, and some shared frustrations or celebrated achievements with me. They were all there for me simply because we are the same species and need to support each other in the moment of need! I no longer felt weak; I felt empowered!

Now it is my turn to give back, and my mission is to spread the word about early intervention. It is my mission to tell parents, if in doubt, to take their kids to be checked. It is my mission to tell parents that, if in doubt, not to feel shame and hide until it is too late. Instead, be brave, face the challenge, adjust your lifestyle, learn to speak your child’s language, share your love, and you will find your strength and you will find your hidden powers!

Everything Varuzh and I did with Robert when he was little, we did with Alex – we read and played together, cooked and baked together, went to the zoo and farms together, watched movies and explored the world together…

During one of the meeting at Alex’s school, his teacher told Varuzh and me that Alex is a lucky kid for having such parents. I know that we truly did everything we could for him, but, most of all, I do believe that we are the ones who are lucky – this boy taught us so much about life, about love, about ourselves!

When Alex turned seven, Varuzh and I told him that he has autism, so he would finally understand who he is and why he thinks differently from other kids in his school.

“Oh, I see,” he said. “Is that a bad thing?”
“No, it is just different,” I replied.
“Does that mean I can still become a teacher?” he asked.
“Yes, you can become anything you want!” I said, and I meant it.

And whether my life is like a fairytale or not, I did get a happy ending. No matter how tough life is sometimes, I feel so empowered and so lucky, that I would never ask for any other...

Signing off until Monday.

With love always,
xo Zuma A.

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