By Katy Stokes
Autism Asperger’s Digest | May/June 2009
My friend Megan goes to the same church as I do. Every Thursday night, from September to June, I have dinner with Megan and her mom. It’s a high point of my week; when I’m with them, I feel blessed and loved and understood. Megan is five years old and she has autism.
We met when Megan was two and her mom would bring her to a store where I worked. In those first days, Megan was in a stroller and couldn’t walk on her own. She had no verbal skills and would almost never make eye contact. She was in her own world and had very few bridges to let others in.
Megan and I have come a long way since then. We now see each other at church instead of the mall and Megan walks and talks and makes connections with lots of people. She still has trouble making eye contact and needs a reminder to use her words, but from those first days of our friendship until now—she is a different child.
Along this path we’ve walked together I have been so blessed by this little girl who is truly a friend. Megan has taught me the truth of unexpected, undeserved, and truly unconditional love. Not by how I have come to love her, but by how she has loved me.
In the beginning and still in many ways to this day, Megan thinks highly of only three people—her mom, her first teacher, and me. For no reason I can surmise, Megan took it upon herself to love me. And no one loves as an autistic child loves. With Megan I am invited into a new world, a world that exists inside and around and throughout this mundane world that everyone else sees.
In this world. there are mysteries around every corner. In this world, green is a magic and wonderful and most beautiful color and it should adorn every surface we can possibly touch. In this world. there should always be frosting and no cake. In this world, chocolate is made out of moon sand and a broken light bulb is as dire and distressing as a broken heart.
With Megan I eat tacos from the inside out and bananas from the bottom up. And I watercolor just to color water.
Megan has given me tools I never knew I needed. I’ve learned to embrace my life in a way I didn’t even imagine before her and couldn’t do without her. Through my friendship with Megan and her mom, I have met other children with autism. And I have begun to open my eyes to the beauty of God’s creation. A beauty that makes itself known in tubs full of lima beans and rice, and in purple shaving cream.
Today I sat in a circle with seven of these children—seven delightful new friends—and watched them making music with colored bells. After the last celestial chorus, a tiny voice reached up from next to me and whispered, “…that sound was a rainbow.”
It was the best secret I’ve ever been told.
Katy Stokes is a young adult living in Midland, Michigan, where she coordinates music and contemporary worship at First United Methodist Church. She is proud to be part of a church that truly welcomes all children and provides for their needs. Katy welcomes comments/questions through her blog at http://girlsguidetofaith.blogspot.com/.
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