I really love our church. Today's lay led service was on "dis" abilities. My Chet was asked if he would usher and he was so proud to take the collection. He also takes charge of the collections for the food pantry each week. He has a giving heart though it is sometimes hard to tell because of his manner of expressing himself. Someone posted an article recently about how autistic people don't not feel, if anything they feel too much. I have often thought that very sentiment about Chet. It is easier for him to show compasssion to a cause, or a wider group than to interact individually because the latter is so much more intense and overwhelms him.
The stories shared by folks who have a variety of challenges in their lives were compelling. One person in particular shared a mental health diagnosis, that I would wager many of us did not have a clue about. I thanked her afterwards. Sure takes guts to get up there and say those things. It is also a testament to our faith community that people feel safe enough to do that.
I also have a passionate concern for folks whose dx is not obvious. Folks who are blind, folks with other physical impairments have a tough road to hoe and I am not saying at all that it is easy. But it is more obvious and so I think that to some extent there are more helps offered. To have a 'hidden" disability--mental illness for instance, or my Chet's aspergers, does not always engender supportive comments. Because from a distance it all looks like something else. Maybe bad parenting, maybe teen rudeness (though he is 28 he is often mistaken for a teen). I have found myself in public having to explain that my son is autistic, and it breaks my heart. I feel like I should not have to advertise his disability. I don't want him to ever think that I see him as "Aspergers" instead of as Chet, the babe I held at JFK airport, my eldest, my smart, exasperating, funny, challenging man-child. He is those things and more to me. Aspergers is waaaaaay down the list. Yet to get services, to get supports, I have to make it the top of the list. It is a weird place to be sometimes. But to be in that place in a company of supportive others, that makes it easier.