Part 3 of 4

‘When you talk about the autism spectrum, Jackson and Jonah are on totally separate sides. You can get a little eye-contact from Jackson but the more you’re with him, the less he’ll look in your eyes. Jonah, on the other hand, will seek out eye-contact. There’s just a huge range. It has been said that when you meet one autistic child, you’ve met one autistic child. No one definition covers everybody. Jackson’s big topic is Star Wars and Jonah’s is cats. They have a very focused understanding of one particular topic.

We are all beautiful people in one way or another. Jackson has an ability to forgive people that is unprecedented. He could be punched in the face and, in the same breath, he would forgive and never bring it up again. He’s not bent over it and has no bitterness. I try to draw on Jackson’s example to be as forgiving, every day, even though that might not be easy, and I find it amazing that my child can be my teacher. He might not understand the ups and downs and the guiles of the world, but he does understand that people are trying to do their best and he gives everyone the benefit of the doubt and, in that way, he’s beautiful.

Ellie was alive for almost a week. She lived an entire six days with a heart that was half missing and never pumped like it was supposed to. Somehow, she lived for six days and she was smiling and content. At the same time, she was a fighter. We were told, when she was born, that we might have her for a couple hours because her condition was so severe. But, she wanted to be with us as much as we wanted her to be with us. She fought for it as long as she could and she left on her own terms when she was good and ready and she taught us that family is everything. She gripped our fingers with such a strength and we knew she wasn’t going to leave until she saw everyone in her family and, when she did, she closed her eyes and was gone.

Ivy has an emotion, a zest, and a passion for life. She lives every moment to the fullest…whether it’s happy or not, she will fill herself up to her very core and she shares that with everyone. I’ve never seen that in anybody else. Jonah will get upset over something, even if it’s a very small thing…and in a moment or two later, he will apologize for it. As a lot of autistic children don’t feel or express a lot of empathy, he’s working on it so hard that I think, sometimes, he feels it too much. He puts himself in other people’s situations and he’ll go out and do something to benefit the whole family. The other day, he went out and raked the whole front yard and he wanted to do it for his family. Those kinds of unselfish acts, outside of their diagnoses, are what make them the most beautiful.’

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