Wednesday, May 1, 2013

With Membership Comes Privileges

When I was in college, I was all about getting out of college.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and wanted to hurry up and do it already.  I was one of those oddballs who took 8 AM classes every day, went to school year-round, but not because I'm scholarly.  I just wanted to teach band already.

About my sophomore year, maybe end of my freshman year, the older girls in band started talking about pledging this and that.  Keep in mind that this was Hardin-Simmons University, and they only allowed national fraternities and sororities that were profession-based.  In other words, unless you went to HSU too, I'm probably not your long lost sister.  Technically, my dear alma mater only had foot-functions and turkey trots, never dances.  And there were no fraternities and sororities, partying it up... only "social clubs".

So in an honest attempt to relax and have a little more fun in college, I pledged a sorority social club.  It really was nothing like your state-school experience, except that there was mostly good natured hazing. I'd tell you more, but I'd have to kill you might make some folks mad.  It's really not that serious, just a bunch of girls enjoying the experience of college together.  Sharing some rather goofy traditions, which included memorizing our pledge book and regurgitating it onto paper word-for-word, and a lot of it was memorizing scripture.  Most of that, I'm sad to say, I barely remember.

But we were all AIO girls.  We were bonded by the unique (work with me here) experience of going through four weeks of mind games.  Nothing sinister, all in fun.  But you did bond with these ladies, and only a couple of them knew anything about music, so it was a good break for me, I suppose.  I did enjoy it, and there are several wonderful people I met and got to know that I never would have otherwise.  It was fun, it taught me a lot about dealing with people... even the not-so-fun parts.  So yes, I'd recommend it with few exceptions.

But the fraternity I'm now a part of I just can't recommend.

Saturday night, I felt like I was at one of our AIO formals.

We've run the gamut of such similar emotions, thoughts, and frustrations.  We didn't choose this club, but there are so many things we've learned that we'd never trade.

Instead of secret traditions carried out during late night trips to undisclosed locations, we share stories of IEP's, diagnoses, doctor appointments, trips to anywhere, stares, shuns, and downright aching disappointment.

But we also share the good stuff.  Stuff that can only be so good after you've fought so. very. long.

The exhilaration of the first word.  The first point.

The tear-filled delight of the first time he showed you a glimpse into his thoughts, even as simple as pointing at the tv and smiling.

The heart-overflowing vision of his smile.  The sound of her laughter.

The instant connection when you meet someone else who belongs to the club.

Although we didn't choose this fraternity, we learn to see the amazing in amidst the pain.  I can't tell you how differently I view things as simple as the ability to ask for what I want.  To tell you how I feel.  To walk through a crowd, stay with my group, and process all the sounds and smells without having to smack my ears with my fists in frustration.

The simple becomes the infinitely complicated.  The otherwise-common becomes the most celebrated and treasured.

If you're new to the club, don't panic.  Shut out the noise and continue to love that little one, remembering that your diagnosis is a ticket to the services you need.  It's a primer to beginning to understand what goes on in that little head.

But try not to shut out the ones who really care.  And when you're ready, look for some of us. Even among us there will be some who do things differently, and that's okay.  You know what else is okay?

The pain.  You're not the only one.  It's hard, and it hurts.

But I promise you that it's not the end of the world.  Sometimes it will feel like it, but it is NOT the end of the world.

Above it all, remember that this little one who has received or is in the process of receiving a label is still the same little one you've loved all along.  This little one is still the child for whom you prayed, and he or she is definitely a part of God's plan.  Jeremiah 29:11 is not limited to the neurotypical.  It's not limited to those with just the right amount of chromosomes, nor the ones who looks and dress just as we do.

Keep going.  You're not alone.  You have brothers and sisters all over the place.

Your struggles are worth it.  They are heard.  So are your child's.  And if it makes you feel better, maybe we can make up one of those secret handshakes.  Oh wait, we already have one.

Cutest. Stim. Ever.

Thanks be to God for the things that make us distinct, and the common ties that bind.  And certainly thanks be for the moments when we find a kindred spirit.


  1. I needed this read this week. We haven't told tons of people yet, but we just got the talk from his teacher at school about all of the red flags they've noticed. I've been in denial and was hoping everyone else would just notice his cuteness. It's a difficult club to join. But like you said, I'm hoping that this diagnosis (although still "unofficial") will help people to understand our little guy better and help him to get what he needs to be the best him he can be.

    1. We're here, however we can help. :-) And of course, we'll be praying.


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