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Precious Jewels

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Precious Jewels

By Crystal Allemand

Autism Asperger’s Digest | March/April 2012

Who among us doesn’t love precious treasures?  What woman doesn’t secretly love a beautifully cut diamond?  For some that treasure may be a cherished vehicle.  You take a common model and add upgrades and personal touches to create a valuable treasure.  Why did it become worth more?  Because it’s no longer common; it’s now unique.  When it comes to material things, the rare and uncommon things are often the most desired and valued.

As I pondered this one thing struck me as odd.  Why don’t we transfer this principle to people as well?  We perceive a person who is rare and uncommon as odd or strange, even bizarre.  As a mother of a son who has Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), I know this to be so.  It is extremely difficult to raise a child with a neurological disability; however, the reason it is difficult may shock you.

Actually many traits of AS are quite admirable.  For example, my son has a loyalty that will not waver, he always finishes what he starts, he is unable to successfully tell a lie, and he grasps absolute concepts at an amazing pace.  He knew math concepts by sixth grade that many of us couldn’t learn in a lifetime.  He is also able to provide an amazing perspective or insight about a situation that the rest of us cannot see.

Obviously there are many challenges that my son has faced, yet as he overcomes each obstacle, there is the great reward of victory!  I’ll never forget when I was able to have a conversation with my son for the first time; he was seven-years-old. Or when he was finally able to learn the proper facial expression to go with the corresponding emotion.  These obstacles have produced in him—and me—a great joy and appreciation for things in life that most of us don’t even notice.

While AS has brought challenges, I wouldn’t label it as the difficulty.  The great difficulty in raising a child with a neurological disability is the way other people perceive them.  It started when my son began the elementary years with the perspective of his peers.  I could handle this reality, as harsh as it was, because I held the hope that adulthood would bring peace for my son.  Surely when these trying childhood years full of peer rejection and disdain passed, mature adults would be more accepting and understanding of him.

Yet as he grew up, the rejection spread from peers to adults.  It seemed no place was a refuge for him.  My son was misunderstood in school, extracurricular activities, by other parents, and even in church.  Reality assured me that adulthood would provide no refuge for him.  This harsh truth created a deep hopelessness within my son…and me.  I couldn’t comprehend why this rare and unique treasure was not only undervalued, but often rejected.

An unexpected turn of events dissolved my hopelessness and renewed my faith—faith in God to meet my son’s deepest needs, and faith that some are able to recognize and appreciate a rare treasure.  Three young men began to be a regular part of my son’s daily conversation.  I recognized these boys’ names from football player flyers and leadership announcements.  I was initially skeptical about their sudden interest with my son.  Yet as opportunities arose for me to witness them interacting, I realized these young men were not just tolerating my son, they actually liked him.  I knew the friendship was genuine when these boys confronted a bully on my son’s behalf and instructed him to leave my son alone or deal with them all.

I had encountered the mother of two of these boys’ on multiple, yet brief, occasions over the years. So when the opportunity arose, it was my pleasure to share with this mom the impact that her sons have had on my son.  As I shared with this sweet woman how her boys have impacted my son and how they changed the course of his life, we both wept.

What she said in response surprised me most. “Your son has changed their lives, too.  He has given them the opportunity to discover their gifts, and to see the world in a different way.”  It was then I realized that my son’s friends were also precious jewels.

I began to look back over my son’s journey from a new perspective.  I realized that the many negative encounters he had faced were all that I had focused on.  Suddenly the many memories of other precious jewels he had encountered along the way flooded my mind.  The first grade teacher who embraced my son in his inclusive classroom, the third grade pastor who elected my son as his right-hand man and chose him first for groups instead of being the usual last choice, or the middle school principal who allowed me to give a presentation on acceptance to the entire seventh grade class.  All of these rare, precious people created a string of pearls on the backdrop of life.

I don’t despise those who treated my son poorly.  I feel compassion toward them.  They are dull of sight and cannot appreciate the great benefit of others, and often themselves.  We each have great value and purpose; we benefit from one another. The diamond needs a cutter to patiently and skillfully shape it into something beautiful, and like many of us, the pearl is formed by the irritants that surround it.  Yet neither treasure is fully appreciated until it is put into the hands of a faithful admirer.  May all of our eyes become opened to see the worth of those around us; and may we learn to value deeply the gifts that each one of us possess.
Crystal Allemand lives in the beautiful state ofOregon and has been exceedingly blessed with an awesome husband and four amazing sons.

Copyright © Autism Asperger’s Digest. 2012. All Rights Reserved.

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