I was once asked, ‘If you had one wish, what would it be?’. The answer might surprise some, but my response was to spend one day inside Jonathan’s mind to see the world through his eyes. To hear, feel and get a better sense of his life with autism. Hoping that one day might give me insights and understanding I’ve been unable to achieve looking from the outside.
While I’ve learned some valuable lessons over the years, I know there are parts I’ve yet to uncover. Like many parents and caregivers, I’m often researching the latest information, trying to gain more tools and strategies. At times I feel like I’m swimming in the ocean with no land in sight. So I keep swimming. Eventually finding something to cling to, but not for long. Trying to dive deep into autism is like entering the abyss. On the surface it’s easier to see and navigate autism’s more predictable and familiar waves. But below the surface, are some depths I’ve yet to reach, seemingly out of my realm yet taunting me to try. At times the phrase “be careful what you wish for” echoes through my mind.
Theoretically, my wish is just that, a wish. In reality, the only way to better understand autism is to dive deeper. Submerging into a world that becomes harder to discern the further I go. The waters darken, the pressure builds and for time it can frighten even the most seasoned diver. Fear of what I will unearth is almost as pressing as what I will not. Even if my tank is running low and I can’t see what’s ahead, sheer will, determination and faith are my diving buddies. If Jonathan can swim in these waters then so can I. He’s a strong swimmer because it’s all he’s ever known. The unknown often has me swimming in circles, trying to fathom a part of his world I still don’t fully understand. Like the ocean, autism is vast, so much to seek and find. Parts of it I know so well, others are elusive yet at times alluring, compelling and complex, making each dive a new challenge. Never fully knowing what the depths will reveal, if anything.
If my wish ever came true, would it resemble diving deep into an ocean of uncharted territory? What would I see, hear and how would it feel swimming in the waters of autism? Would I discover the guidance I seek, answers to the unknown, anything and everything to benefit my son? Would the abyss no longer consume me but instead become an oasis of understanding? I can only wonder and keep hope afloat.
With every dive my mission is that one day my wish will come to fruition and when I break through the surface, I will see a beacon of wisdom, revelations and Jonathan beckoning me to the shore.