Friday, July 12, 2013

Special Kind of Love

I get a lot of questions via Facebook and email about our family, autism, etc.  One of the top questions has consistently been about a family or friend who has a child with autism.  So many of you WONDERFUL people want to know how to approach this, how to be a good friend or family member to this family.

Over the last couple of days, I've watched the answer.

I told you last time that my beyond precious great-aunts were in town.  They drove hours and hours at 70 plus year of age to see my family and my mother.  They've spent time with us before, but shorter amounts and in different scenarios.

And they still weren't afraid to spend time with us, in our house, for about three days.

We didn't try to go anywhere, but stayed at home where we could visit and the kids could play and we could all interact with them, too.  We didn't do anything terribly special.  To tell the truth, most of the time we were talking around the kitchen table or the dining room table.  We ate together, then went back to laughing and chatting and watching the kids.

It was bliss.  They gave me the biggest, most meaningful, heart-touching gift that anyone could have mustered.  They gave their time, their love, and themselves to be family.

There's more.

They rode through the meltdowns over this and that.

They offered encouragement.

They asked questions when appropriate about how to best interact with Ryan.

They loved on ALL the kids, letting them be themselves, without judgement.

They held back any unsolicited advice, trusting that we know the situation better than they do.

They rejoiced when Ryan kissed them goodnight without being asked.  They recognized that for how huge it is.

These ladies simply took the time to make sure they were to my kids the same they were to me.

Loving, accepting, caring... interested.  I'd almost say determined to love us for who we are... each of us... regardless of how different, loud, or just flat off-putting certain behaviors can be.  I know they were a bit out of their elements to say the least in dealing with the behaviors that come with our brand of autism, but they didn't complain.  They didn't say anything sidelong or ugly, and I can guarantee they wouldn't dream of it.

So how do you love a family who is living with autism?  The answer is so simple.  It's so obvious that it might surprise you.  Don't feel bad if you didn't think of it, because sometimes the things we hold so close are the hardest to see.

You love a family with autism just like you would anyone else. 

You listen.  Understand.  Trust.  Encourage.  If you don't understand, listen more.  If you want to love anyone, you must first learn them.  Hang out with them.  Listen to them.  Hold the unsolicited advice.  Halt the need to just try to take over and fix it... whatever it is.  

Did I mention listen?  

I wish I could say that this is automatically how everyone will act in return.  But while I can't guarantee that EVERY family with special needs as part of its life will be a great friend in return, I can say that so many will be so happy to be treated like people.  Not like projects.  

We are blessed with amazing families and friends who stick around to find out that the same family who deals with the little boy who hits his head and screams is actually pretty fun, just limited in how much we feel like we can get out of the house.  

Again, a huge thanks to these ladies for making the trek to G-town.  They made it possible for me to do one of my very favorite things since I was a little girl and the thing I dreamed of doing all at the same time.

I got to hang out with them, looking at old pictures and old stuff and talking about this and that, giggling and chatting about old times over yummy things around the same old table... all in my house with my family.  So sweet.

And judging by the wailing when they left, my kids love them just like I do.

Thanks be to God for the ones whose love transcends the comfort zone.  

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