It’s been almost exactly a year since we received Jake’s ASD diagnosis. I feel like I have grown and stretched more than I would have thought possible. I have so many more ideas, so much more patience. I have so many more conversations about autism. I think about parenting so differently. I think about children so differently. I have examined my heart, my faith, my marriage, my family, my attitudes and my choices. I have been like the heart that broke, and in doing so, opened up wider than was possible before. Much wider.
Today I had time to spend checking out Sesame Street’s new autism initiative, See Amazing. I watched every video. I cried. I opened every link, every pdf, every helpful hint. This is, strangely enough, a wonderful time to be autistic. Better than ever before. And by extension, a wonderful time to be parent to one of these incredible children. There is love in a website. There is truth in a video. There is compassion and understanding in strangers’ voices filtering across the internet.
I want to share every one of Sesame Street’s videos. I want you to watch all of them. They are short, I promise. I want everyone to watch them. I am so thankful for them. Truly, a huge impact is going to be made. The one that hit me the hardest was one titled Nasaiah’s Day. Watch it right now. I’ll wait. You can click right here.
This could have been about Jake. The mom and dad could have been us. I saw Jake in every second of that video. The only difference was that when Jake was four, we didn’t know anything about autism and we had no plan, no support, and things were not going that well.
Sesame Street’s videos show several different families, with several different faces and different presentations of autism. It’s wonderful. It shows something that I can relate to, cry over, and connect over. It’s not about labels. It’s not about explaining all of the intricacies or therapies or anything. It’s about loving kids, about celebrating what is amazing about everyone, and about being compassionate and open to having friends who are different from you.
I cannot turn off my joy. Kids who grow up with these messages will be less likely to bully others who are playing alone. Kids who grow up with understanding and compassion will be more likely to befriend and welcome others and be patient while getting to know them. This is something that will make Jake’s world less frightening, less cruel, less unfriendly. I know I am optimistic. It’s so good to be optimistic.