They are all over my house right now. Little clumps of garbage taped to my walls.
Last weekend while out on a walk, my six-year-old daughter Finley found some trash. It kind of freaked her out because she was worried that if left there other people could be poisoned by it.
She decided we had to do something. “Mom, we have to go clean our village.”
But she became anxious. What if we touch the litter, get germs, and die? If it can hurt the earth and others by being left out, how do we pick it up without being harmed?
She has always approached new things by observing them over and over. Practicing in her mind the way the process works before trying it herself.
She is also an incredible problem solver. Over the course of a few days she talked quite a bit about our little dilema.
Then one day she started meticulously crumpling up paper and taping it all over the house. I had no idea what it was about.
“Hey Fin, I’m digging this new art of yours.”
“Mom, this isn’t art. It’s garbage. When we go on our walk all over the village we need to be safe. First we need do gloves and use plastic bags. And we need to practice. These are the practice garbages to pick up and learn.”
Finley, there are those in this world who will assume the worst of you because you are autistic. They will disregard you and never see just how capable you are.
This is proof that they are wrong.
You observe the world around you and think each detail through. You have an intense attachment to your home and neighborhood, not just because it is yours and your mind is wired to, but because you see it as important for others as well. When confronted with a problem, you solved it. Even though you were overwhelmed with anxiety and fear.
Stand tall and proud in the space you are in.
You are wonder to behold Finley.
I love you.
Shayla Hearn writes an autism parenting column for the Geek Club Books Penfriend Project.
Photo credit: Shayla Hearn