One of the ways autism has redirected our life has been through changing our focus on achievement. Admittedly, I stopped filling out his Baby Book early on because it was just too painful. Milestones missed, empty blanks on empty pages of developmental markers he was supposed to achieve but didn’t. (Not until much, much later at least.) With each passing year, it would become more obvious that Noah was “delayed.” Thus, our achievements weren’t those of his peers.
While his friends were running, he didn’t walk. When they were coloring pictures for their moms, Noah wouldn’t hold a crayon. Other children in his class babbled away and had to be quieted. Noah never made any noise. Our drastic differences made achievement driven model of success impossible.
So we became attuned to the smaller milestones – ones so small that some parents of typically functioning children don’t even notice. Things like: “Noah looked at me and smiled today” were cause for celebration. We learned to cherish and celebrate every victory – no matter how small.
Other victories included:
- Noah held a cup today. (3 years old)
- Noah pointed at milk in the refrigerator today. (around 4 years old)
- Noah crawled up into my lap and let me hold him for 2 minutes! (5 years old)
We have never stopped celebrating our smallness. I can tell you about the first time Noah ordered in a restaurant, the first time he read scripture, and his first weekly allowance for chores completed. All very small things, made graciously full through a celebration that allows us to develop at our own pace. We’ve learned that “delayed” doesn’t mean you’ll never get to your destination – you just make more stops along the way postponing your arrival somewhat.
I believe we are more content and happy because we celebrate smallness. Interestingly enough, we also have more to celebrate than most people. And our smallness identifies us with Jesus, who liked to use mustard seeds as an illustration of strength and greatness.