Voices of Autism: ‘The Real Holy Grail’
Every day throughout April–Autism Awareness Month–we will be featuring a different reader-submitted story about living with autism. Today’s story was written by Lynn Hudoba, mother of Audrey, 7, and author of the blog Autism Army Mom.
Monday, October 24, 2005, was a beautiful fall day. I was stopped at an intersection not far from my house, when I had a sudden and certain realization. My daughter has autism. A light bulb went off as if I had just realized that I’d forgotten to take a pill, or send a birthday card, or turn off the oven.
The fallout from this was likely to be slightly more life-altering than having a bout of heartburn, snubbing a friend, or even burning my house to the ground, but somehow the initial jolt was a similar sensation.
Everything had been fine just seconds before, and now nothing would ever be the same. Audrey was in the back, flipping through books in her car seat as she always did. Nothing had changed about her in those few seconds but suddenly my perception of her was completely different. She was no longer just a late bloomer or an introvert. She had autism, a neurological disorder from which she might never recover.
From that moment forward, I proceeded to pass through each stage of grief several times over, sometimes in the course of a single day: denial, pain, anger, bargaining, shock, guilt, depression, and finally acceptance. The Holy Grail of the stages was acceptance. But even that doesn’t sound all that great. OK, I’ve accepted it… now what? What about happiness? What about joy? What about laughter? That’s the real Holy Grail.
It’s been a long journey since that initial mallet-to-the-head moment, but we’ve finally gotten to a phase of something more than just acceptance. And humor has had more than a little to do with what has brought us to where we are today.
Finding humor in our situation seemed at first incongruous and almost forbidden. It’s been prompted by such things as the clueless reaction of an elderly relative who says she always knew that her grandchild was “artistic.” Or a prospective respite worker who showed no shame in confessing that she loved to babysit autistic kids, like the one who licked a doorknob for three straight hours–easiest gig ever! Or something that my daughter does that makes me laugh hysterically and remember that she is still the same kid that she was before a label was slapped on her.
My daughter doesn’t act the same way as a typically developing 7-year-old. Nor can she converse with you as you might expect her to. She can’t ride a bike or make friends like other children her age can. But she is sweet and funny, warm and affectionate, adorable and endlessly endearing. Autism may bring me to my knees on occasion, but Audrey is always there to lift me up, bring a smile to my face, and show me all the joy to be had in this life of ours.Add a Comment