Dad: Sam, do you like the mashed potatoes?
Dad: Why not?
Sam: Because of the skin. And the mash.
That's Sam for you. He has such a quirky way of talking about things. Actually he has a quirky way of processing the world around us. He is constant. Not in the sense of sameness, which is true though. Sam is Sam every time you're with him. But I'm talking about the constant process of answering questions, of reminding him of the way things should be or what the proper response should be in a particular situation. Trying to keep up can be exhausting sometimes. And frustrating. It requires a lot of grace and a whole boatload of patience.
It can be difficult for people to be around. We know that. We ask for a lot of understanding and a lot of room from our friends. Sam uses questions to help him integrate and understand the world around him. It can be taxing to answer them all the time.
But you know what? The alternative is that he goes away. That he retreats inside his own world, locked out of ours. And frankly, that's really just not an option to us. He adds to much joy and down right fun to our lives to let him slip away. He lives wholeheartedly and out loud.
We struggle at times to find the right words to help him make the connections he needs to function in our society...to comprehend the world we live in. But we keep working at it, not just because the alternative I mentioned earlier that really isn't an alternative, but because it changes us. It helps us process the world we live. We could demand that Sam come to us and then just write it off...write him off because he can't. Or we can go to where he is...and see the world the way he does and then help him bridge the gap between the two.
In photography, actually in the post processing portion of picture taking, there is this thing called layering or adding texture. You take two different photos and put them together to create a new photograph with one layer actually enhancing the other. Done well and it adds a beautiful richness to a photograph.
Helping Sam live in our world, is not a process of destroying his. It's merging of the two...his way and ours...creating a life that is rich and full and adds much to those around him.
Currently autism affects 1 out of every 100 children.
That's about 673,000 children in the United States.
Learn about autism...the odds are you probably know someone whose life has been impacted by it.