Seraphina sometimes has headphones on, but its rare, unless she's in a space that is overwhelming or someone is vacuuming. So if you see us, my brood and I, out at a store, she's often by my side, holding my hand and toddling along much like all my other children have when they were her age.
Then sometimes, it happens. Something sets her off. Yesterday, it was the fact that at Michael's, there was a Beanie Boo that we had at home in the rack for sale. She was insistent that it was hers and she get it. Luckily I had her in a Target cart buckled or that rack would have been overturned and who knows what would have happened. When Seraphina begins to melt, trying to talk to her can set her off more. So I quietly and firmly said, "its not yours". She escalated but the other kids were in line and I wasn't going to stop them after driving from Flemington to PBurg for their own goodies...so we waited.
As we did, I watched, the cashier, rolled their eyes, huffed and groaned and glared in our direction. I stood, I took it in. All we, as humans want is to be accepted. We won't like everyone, we wont be like everyone. That being said, we as humans are called to accept others. As they are.
You see, before Seraphina, that paragraph could have been written about me. I have often shared my own personal struggle with accepting others for who they are. I was raised Catholic and although Catholic means "all encompassing", I struggled with placing my own thoughts, feelings and beliefs on others not allowing them to be who they were intended to be. Seraphina changed that for me. I have learned that we as individuals don't always choose who we are, we can't change who we were intended to be but as humans we can support each and every person we meet on their journey.
I stood, unaware as to why Henry couldn't accept that my child, struggling, couldn't be like "typical" five year olds in that moment, even though I was trying to help her understand.
So I did it. For the second time in two days, I advocated, for Seraphina, for other children with extra needs, for adults with differences, for communities that are looked down upon, for those who are in a situation where they could use support in being who they feel they are called to be in life.
I whipped out a card, that I made, it shares my blog, my Facebook Page and the fact that I am an advocate of all with autism and other disabilities. I looked Henry square in the eye, slapped down the card and simply said "Seraphina has autism. I am sorry she interrupted your day, but she doesn't understand and she's doing her best, I am sure you understand being looked down upon, right Henry?"
In the moments since I have accepted that THIS is my daughter, autism and all, I realize that my job isn't just to love her, raise her and help her to succeed its also to raise awareness, support others and remind people that kindness, acceptance and understanding will make the world a better place.