Monday, December 21, 2009

Compassion. My First Christmas Present

My first Christmas present this year was the gift of compassion from a stranger. I took Nicky to Universal Studio's for the Grinchmas celebration. We played in the snow area where Nicky enjoyed poking Frosty with a carrot!

Next we headed to a theater in the park where kids could meet the Grinch, watch the Grinch movie and enjoy coca and cookies. As we neared the theater I saw a massive line and thought "Crap" he's never gonna make it through that line calm enough to be able to enjoy himself once he gets in. I approached an attendant, showed him Nicky's disability pass and asked if there was any way for him to bypass the long line as he does for the rides. He looked at me with a blank look and said "NO. Not for this event". I'm used to people not understanding so I rephrased my question and watched him hoping to see a sign that he understood what I was asking for and why. A glimmer to tell me that he didn't think I had conjured up this story to get ahead of other people. I saw nothing on his face. Then a lady appeared and asked "What's going on?" He started to talk and she turned from listening to him, looked me in the eyes and said "Where's your son?, bring him here". She took me by the arm and led us right to the front. My eyes welled up as I thanked her. She had done what her co worker did not have the capacity to do; see us and understand. Thanks to her we were not invisible and I could stop trying to explain. She squeezed my arm and said "My Uncle has special needs. Have a great time" and she was gone. As we swooped in, got our treats and Nicky met the Grinch I couldn't stop thinking and smiling about how her kindness was the perfect holiday present, for us.

This year as I approach Christmas I am grateful for the kindness of others and the gifts that Nicky has given me when I am able to listen and pay attention. Autism has lowered my joy bar and given me lot's of gifts. Because of autism...

• I make it a point to find things to laugh at, even if it's just myself. I can often be found cracking myself up!

• I find things to make me happy even if it's just how a tree wiggles in the wind.

• I remember to be grateful, even when I am paying the bills.

• I have the ability to seek out joy in the little things....and I do mean little things.

• I have the ability to let go of "How Things Should Be" and not only accept but find happiness in how things are.

• I have learned how many choices I have, that I used to take for granted. I have the ability to be elated over the kindness of others.

• I have determination to always make an effort to see people for who they are, not their bodies or circumstances.

• The gift of living with someone who never stays mad, holds a grudge or tries to get back at someone, Nicky simply moves on.

• I have learned from Nicky to give myself a time limit when it comes to feeling, mad, bad or sad. I feel it, get it over with (tears tantrums and all) and then I move on as quickly as possible.

We all hope that one day Autism will not exist. But, right now it’s here and it’s in my house. I would not ask for it, or wish it on anybody, but it has given me gifts that I am deeply grateful for.

Happy Holidays Everyone.


  1. My goodness, Donna. You summed it up. Imagine who you wouldn't be if Nicky had not manifested in your life. It is impossible for us to know who we would have been if these kids hadn't appeared on the scene. Just as it is impossible for us to imagine them without their autism. We are interwoven with them, they are interwoven with autism. And we're all in this together!

  2. "Why/how are you so awesome?!? Thanks for putting words to my experience as well. We are in it together!! Love to you all. "

  3. Thanks, Donna! And blessings to you and your family. I'm going to forward this to my nephew and his wife: Their daughter, Hannah, also has autism.

  4. "Donna, you truly are amazing."

    Robin Howald

  5. I enjoyed reading "Compassion, my first Christmas present!" I think of you often as you manage to keep it all together with a smile and a heart of gold:-) Have a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year! See you soon. With love, Sheri K