Journal entry, May 8 2012: Early Morning…..
Of Autism, Pain and Maturity—
Maturity is a difficult hill to achieve even in the best of times…Usually, most people begin the road towards developing maturity along a common childhood timeline; by observation, trial and error. The average child is able to see which actions get approval, which ones get negative responses, and their choices develop and mature at about the same pace as their language and social skills.
But then there are those who cannot grasp language as quickly- who do not catch the facial nuances that mean positive and negative– so they have a hard time with knowing they are liked, and knowing how to show they like others. Since these understandings are the backbones of social and mental growth – Their growth does not come as soon– because it must wait for them to learn enough language to learn the other skills by rote and long hard practice. That does not mean they don’t learn them- it just means that their hill to maturity is more like a Mountain- filled with rockslides of teasing, and stumbling blocks of good-intentioned criticism and sarcastic comments like “how old are you” in front of everyone they are trying to be peers with.
And then, there’s the deeper truths– Things like the power of pain as a means to teach things faster and stronger than normal. And like maturity- which is much more than just learning to feed and clothe yourself, more than knowing how to sit still in class, or how to analyze the latest lit. assignment in junior English class, more than knowing the street-smarts of how to navigate high school without getting clobbered. Maturity is the abilities that entail seeing where your choices will take you, the ability to forgive, all the things that allow for growth of the spirit into the valiant and courageous hero that can help others conquer their mountains too.
These youth have much to overcome in such a small number of years; but they will get to the top of their mountains. In spite of the pain, or more probably because of it- they will succeed, and might just end up much higher than the “average” person who didn’t have to try so hard. That is often how the Lord works.
So as you spend time with these youth, the ones who do not want to show that they need extra care and love, in your position to help them grow- how do you want to be remembered- as a stumbling block to be overcome? or a hand-hold along the way?