This is the seventh post in our series, “This is Autism,” which captures snapshots of our children’s lives across the entire spectrum.
Violet was my favorite color as a child, and violets remain one of my favorite flowers. Growing up, I used to go in search of them in the cool, dark grass that grew on the north side of our garage. They were the gift of choice for Mother’s Day – a tradition now repeated by my own daughter. She also loves the color – in all its varied hues.
My daughter was named for two great ladies: the wife of an American president, who came to be respected and admired in her own right; and the other, a queen of France and England. We always called her by her given name, never a nickname, it didn’t seem to suit her; ever. I’ve always felt her love of violet was a perfect match. It is the color of emperors and royalty, after all. But she didn’t start life in a state of privilege.
She was a preemie, born with an extraordinary amount of fight within her tiny being. Little did we know that our tiny girl would take us to places that were so confounding, so intense, so full of ache. With her vast amount of words, it was difficult for others to hear the gaps in her speech. She wanted so much to be part of the group that others didn’t see how often she was “stuck” and couldn’t move on. Her sensory issues could bring our home life to a grinding halt.
More than a dozen years have passed since I dealt with the baby that needed to sleep on my chest for six weeks, unable to sleep alone. Years of occupational therapy and social skills training, along with countless social stories and visual schedules have moved my daughter into an amazing place.
She has become her own best advocate. She sings and plays piano beautifully, swims powerfully, and runs like the wind. It was an indescribable delight to witness her taking first place in her race at a district track meet this spring. The things I imagined for her before she was born were not nearly as great as what she has become. And perhaps that is because I know, intimately, how hard it has been for her to get here.
That strength she displayed at birth; she uses every ounce to get past her autism barriers and to this place of being, beautifully, herself. My regal daughter has set out on a path to find her talents, and she will not be a shrinking violet.