This is the fourth post in our series, “This is Autism,” which captures snapshots of our children’s lives across the entire spectrum.

Green – it’s the color of fresh, flourishing nature. Countless unique blades of grass which feel funny under your bare toes in the first walk of spring. New life sprouting out of the ground after an endless winter. Dancing leaves at the top of a strong tree trunk.  And, for us Irish girls, it’s also the color of luck, the promise at the end of the rainbow.

Let’s start with the luck.  As is usual, the universe knew exactly what was right for me, and blessed me with two amazing children – my son, who is quickly approaching 13 and my daughter, who is nine. They are both vitally important to my luck story, not only because I feel like the most fortunate mother on Earth, but because without both of them, this story would not be the same.

My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of four. From my study of ASD, I know there were signs much earlier, but it took the birth and development of my daughter for me to clearly see my son’s irregular development. He was working so hard to learn things that were implicit in my daughter’s development. Speech and language were the most obvious areas. As a first time mother, I didn’t grasp the ease at which language could develop in children until I saw the ease with which my daughter picked up what was true work for my son. Conversely, it was just as apparent the super powers he had in other areas. His ability to write incredible stories at an early age, his ability to study music and develop his own, and the way information stuck with him when he was interested in a topic. He soaked it all up.

After his diagnosis, a few things changed. I had books I could read, internet articles to pore over, and classes I could take. But after a while, I determined no one has a magic formula to grow this garden. It was up to me to figure it out.  Through my studies, I definitely gathered new tools for my garden tending, but no magic formula. Over time I realized, if the soil is just right, if I am mindful of watering and sunlight and warmth, this garden flourishes.

At first, much of the journey of nurturing this garden felt like those barefoot spring walks I described.  But as you know, after a season of those barefoot walks, the grass doesn’t feel so funny under your toes.  Though some of the flowers pop out of the ground later than I expected, the early ones are so beautiful and unique that they distract from the ones that take their time.  Oh, and when the late ones bloom, they are well worth that long, seemingly endless wait.

I would say one of the most captivating pieces of this garden is the tree anchored in the center.  As each year goes by, it becomes more of a focal point with its strong trunk and spanning branches. My son reaches up and out, exploring and discovering while remaining firmly rooted in the well-tended ground. The flowers and plants below are still quite lovely with unexpected color and surprise each spring, but that tree, it keeps getting bigger and stronger.  And oh, those dancing leaves – I could watch them forever.

 Read the rest of the series: Violet, IndigoBlueYellow, Orange, Red

Author: Gretchen

Gretchen parents a child on the spectrum.

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