Every child is unique and excellent, just like a flower will bloom beautifully and elegantly. However, to become a flower, the little seed needs air, sunshine, water, soil, and environment; a flowery life also needs nutrients to bloom. These soul nutrients are called appreciation, care, love, and hope. Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder that diagnosed as having communication, behavior, and social interaction difficulty. Autistic children have another name—children from stars. Autistic children seem to live on another planet, a totally different world than us. They are beautiful and lonesome. By living in their own world, they never stop seeking and learning to live in a meaningful way of life.
Before I start my practicum with Team Filbert, I thought autism was as same as isolation. Individuals who have autism have no physical functional disorder, it is all about their minds and hearts. But when I saw Filbert for the first time, it was opposite my expectation. He said “hi” and smiled to me while he was riding a bike in the house, very open and even a little noisier. I learned that Filbert’s body and mind are separated—what he said or did are not what he thought in his mind. How hard it is for a 6-year-old boy to deal, I cannot imagine. During my practicum time, I have realized that Filbert is a brave, humorous, and intelligent boy who has a passion of life, just like his mother. Once, Em told me Filbert spell the word, taiji (Tai chi) and he wanted to learn it. I was surprised. He wants to learn more and more, shows his interests, and eager to touch the world, to experience both of its wonderfulness and imperfection.
As I worked with him, he likes to show his big, loving smiling face to me. When he finds something interesting, he is always excited to show his joy and share it with me. I can feel that the light of hope shines brightly in his beautiful eyes. He needs people’s love, care, respect, and patience a lot. The lonely children wish more people to learn their world, to give them more empathy and understanding. Sometimes he refuses me, pushes me away, or fights against me, this is ok. It does not mean he dislikes you or do not want to do the things with you, he might be confused or uncomfortable. His way of expression and interaction is slightly different than us, but he can feel and think just like you and I. His mind is fighting with his body and trying to coordinate the two of them, just give him time, still be there with him and encourage him to overcome this obstacle step by step, slowly but firmly. All beginnings are difficult, this is a growing journey that not only for Filbert to learn and practice, but also for me to share and to gain valuable experience.
The Indian poet, Tagore wrote that every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of men. Filbert loves to read the Bible; he can feel the grace and God limitless power. This faith and hope from God teaches us to be humble and loving. It gives meaning and the promise of redemption to human life—a faithful and grateful attitude. Remember God’s grace and love when you are in sorrow, the Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him (Lamentations 3:25). As long as individuals put trust and act according to God wishes, they will be transformed into a man whose heart is always full of love and virtue; we will enter into the kingdom of God (dream or life goals) safely and fully, no matter in which way life takes us. A person’s full development is a long striving process. All God does is help individuals walk in holiness.
Rome was not build in a day. Even though we are in a different world temporarily, we have the same heart and need to place love, humility, beauty, and truth in all this goodness. It is love which enables the world go around and move forward, by enabling individuals to travel through life hand in hand. I truly hope autistic children will have more genuine smiles and sunshine in their future, so that we need more and more people in society to care and help them better adapt in our living environment. Under the nourishment of unconditional love, I believe every family who has a child with autism will walk out of the shadows; every family will have happy and healthy parents and children.