Life Lesson #1:
Be sincere. Children with autism often have a hard time learning to pretend, so being insincere is not something they know how to do. Every hug, giggle, and smile is genuine. Insincerity is a skill better left untaught.
Life Lesson #2:
I love you goes a really, really long way. Children with autism don’t have a lot of extra words to throw around, which makes “I love you” all the more powerful.
Life Lesson #3:
Take nothing for granted. I get really upset with parents who complain about their children. I can’t tell you how many times I hear things like, my kid talks too much. My son was talking and then stopped shortly before he turned 2. It was over a year before I heard the word “Mama” again. I appreciate every word my son speaks now. They may be few, but I don’t take a single word for granted.
Life Lesson #4:
Never give up. Very few things come easily for my son. What he accomplishes is because of hard work. He does not have the luxury of giving up. He may get frustrated, but he does not let it stop him. Just think what we could accomplish if we all had that same attitude.
Life Lesson #5:
Sing anyway. Speaking is difficult for my son. The words he does say, often are not clear. However, he loves to sing. Singing for some reason comes easier than speaking. He learns songs easily and finds pleasure in singing. It seems no matter what happens, he always has a song. He even sings when he gets scared. It is his way to comfort himself. It seems he finds a reason to be joyful every day. Our lives would all be better if we could find the joy and sing anyway. Somehow in the midst of our song, we just might find the joy in life as well.
Life Lesson #6:
Verbal ability does not necessarily equate intelligence and lack thereof does not mean a lack of intelligence. I know some people who never stop talking that I would not consider intelligent and some of the smartest people I know hardly talk at all.
Life Lesson #7:
Find pleasure in simple things. My son has no interest in expensive toys. He finds joy in playing in a rain puddle, running barefoot in the grass, and best yet, in a Hershey bar. If only we all could learn to do that.
Life Lesson #8
Don’t judge others. My son doesn’t care what a person looks like, how much money they have, or what they have accomplished in life. He is an equal opportunity friend. His only prerequisite, is that the person show him kindness. He is, however, a good judge of character and knows when someone genuinely cares and when they don’t. He doesn’t waste his efforts with those who aren’t genuine.
Life Lesson #9:
Happiness is contagious. My son is a giggler. He laughs a lot, sometimes even in his sleep. He has the kind of laugh that just makes you smile. No matter what my day is like, I can’t help but feel happier when I hear him laugh.
Life Lesson #10:
Actions speak louder than words. During a group therapy session, there was a little boy laying on the ground crying because he had been pushed down by another child. My son didn’t have the verbal ability to comfort him with words, but he just sat down beside him and laid his hand on the little boy’s back and sat there quietly. He said more with that simple, sweet gesture than anybody could with a whole dictionary of words.