Our world has been experiencing a pandemic. All of us have been living in unprecedented times of quarantine and isolation for the last couple of years. Children forced to adopt distant learning at home and once back in schools, mandated to wear masks and practice social distancing. Parents have struggled with loss of jobs or for many needing to adopt to a new way of working from home and feeling isolated from their social lives. We have all felt the loss of heartfelt hugs with friends and firm handshakes with strangers; even turning away instead of saying “bless you” when someone sneezes. Our hearts have turned cold and insensitive.
My name is Sky! My family and I have been experiencing our own pandemic for many years. You see, I have been dealing with isolation, social distancing, distant learning and therapies since I turned three years old few years back. What you all have experienced and frustrations you have felt in the last couple of years, I have endured for many years now that the world of isolation is my norm. For years I looked outside my windows in our small town of Owlsville and only through my imagination did I experience riding those school buses that were picking up other kids in our neighborhood to school; these were supposed to be my school friends; but I was not a fit for the “normal” school; what is normal anyway?
Being labeled with Autism has been my real struggle and not just for me but also for my mom, Rosa and my younger sister, Paula. My parents went through a divorce soon after I was diagnosed with non-verbal autism; I have been so confused all these years. Was I to be blamed for their separation since my father abandoned our family and left Owlsville soon after my diagnosis; leaving my mom to take over and play his role as a provider? Mom has been my superhero, but she is a gentle soul with feelings, real feelings which in her case were filled with shame and melancholy. She has felt ashamed to get out in her social world and isolated herself in the name of wanting to take care of “Her Sky” for so many years now.
For me and my family, the pandemic of Autism has felt like a quarantine of a lifetime. I may not have been verbal or socially apt and deep inside my heart has been in pain for so many years. Pain of not feeling included, not being heard, not from my voice, but thru my eyes. You see, I can communicate, but only if you are willing to see the brilliance thru my eyes. I am bright and can shine only if the world was kinder and looked at me not as a disable young adult but as a differently abled being.
I know one day soon both our pandemics will come to an end. The pandemic of my world is viral also. You see in my world and so many other children, younger adults and even adults with Autism, our pandemic will come to an end when we all come to realize that our differences are our strengths; We all are BRIGHTBUDDIES and crave the need to be accepted and included. Till that day, I pray for both our Pandemics and all those families that have been impacted.