media of choice is Twitter. I like
Twitter; it forces you to say what you need to say in 140 characters or less.
Short, sweet, and to the point – a perfect communication tool for a busy mom
skimming through my Twitter feed last night I came across a tweet promoting a “Twitter
Storm” on Sunday, February 12, through the use of the hash tag, #autismsunday. (For those of you who do
not tweet, a “Twitter Storm” refers to a significant volume
of messages with the same hash tag that elicits interest, not only on Twitter, but in mainstream media as well.) In other words, it gets people talking.
As you know, my son has
autism so naturally this piqued my interest. I clicked the link and was led to
a Facebook page: Autism Sunday-International Day of Prayer for Autism and Asperger’s
How is it
that I have not heard of this before?!
Autism Sunday - International Day of Prayer for Autism and
Asperger's Syndrome falls on the second Sunday/week in
February each year.
Autism Sunday was founded by British
autism campaigners, parents and carers Ivan and Charika Corea who have a son
Charin with autism. A historic servicemarking Autism Sunday took place in 2002
Autism Awareness Year at St.Paul's Cathedral in London. Since then Cathedrals,
Churches and religious organisations around the world have been marking Autism Sunday every year. Autism Sunday is now a huge
international movement with people remembering 67 million people with autism
and Asperger's Syndrome in prayer…
to miss out on an opportunity to promote Autism Awareness and Understanding, I visited
the Autism Sunday website and determined that this was a legitimate
and worthwhile endeavor.
who in the autism community couldn’t use
a few extra prayers?
apparently not everyone came to that same conclusion.
It was close
to midnight Saturday here in the U.S., but the #autismsunday
hash tag was already popping up in tweets from the U.K. I scrolled through them, noting the tremendous
diversity among the tweeters. One, in particular, caught my attention.
exactly are we supposed to be praying for?” she demanded. “If it’s for understanding;
fine. If it’s for a cure then forget it!”
perusal of her profile gave the impression that she was a young adult -- most likely
with Asperger’s -- who took fierce pride in her quirkiness and resented the
thought of anyone suggesting that she needed to be “cured.”
Please post your
prayers, your thoughts....let's celebrate the lives of 67 million people with
autism around the world on Autism Sunday 2012.
I got ready for bed. It was too bad, I thought, that this woman had missed the point. There didn't seem to be any hidden agenda here.
at Mass our family took its customary pew at the rear of the church. When Billy
was little we sat there in case we needed to make a quick exit when his
behavior became disruptive during Mass. That doesn’t happen as often now, but we
gravitate to that same pew out of habit. I suppose others do likewise; we typically
see the same familiar faces around us each week. They are accustomed to seeing
the boy the size of a linebacker air-conducting the choir and repeatedly
leaning over to stroke and sniff his mother’s hair.
"Billy," I whispered. "Sit still and say your prayers."
He folded his hands together and grunted, "Jesus, I trust in you." Then he laughed and began fingering the decorative beads on my sleeve.
Billy would love Twitter.
We held hands and listened to the day’s
liturgy. The first reading concerned the treatment of lepers: "The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall keep his garments rent and his head bare… he shall cry out, 'Unclean,
unclean!' … he shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”
reading was advice from St. Paul to members of the early church: “Do everything
for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to Jews or Greeks or the
church of God… that they may be saved.”
a reading from the Gospel of Mark: “A
leper came to him and (kneeling down) begged him and said, "If you wish,
you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched him, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’ The leprosy left
him immediately, and he was made clean.”
When the priest
gave his homily he did not mention Autism Sunday, but no matter. He did, however,
talk about three things that are relevant to
me on this day.
First: how horrible it is to be shunned by
others and made to live on the fringe of society because of fear and ignorance. (Autism is the leprosy of our generation.)
important it is to avoid alienating each other.
(We must embrace diversity and stand together as a community.)
completely useless it is to have an agenda when it comes to prayer. (Your will
As Father spoke about the faith of the leper who asked
Christ to heal him, I couldn’t help but sigh. For ten years I begged the Lord
to heal Billy; to give me back the child I lost; to give him a chance at
anything that might resemble a normal life. I had the same unwavering faith as
did the leper in the Gospel – I still do. I still believe with every fiber of
my being that my God has the power to do anything…if He so wishes…including removing this debilitating condition that
has so deeply affected my son and our entire family.
Because -- no matter how distasteful it may be to those on the higher end of the autism
spectrum -- I do wish that my son
could be healed. I wish it every day. I would give twenty years off my life if
he could be neuro-typical again. That doesn’t mean that I love him any less
because he has autism or that I think that his life has less value than that of
his NT sister.
him I have learned that wishing and praying are two entirely different things. Because of him, I learned the right way to pray.
Jesus, I trust in you.
You see, I used to think that prayers had their own agenda, kind of the way the Aspie tweeter did. I wish that my son had friends. I wish that we could have a real
conversation. I wish that he could
grow to be an independent man with a family and a career. His autism prevents all that and so, yes, I wish he did not have autism.
But, I no
longer pray for him to be healed. Oh, I still have the faith of that leper. God could do it if He wished. I’ve simply come to accept that He does not wish it. I don't like it, but I have accepted it. Being human, I can’t wrap my puny little mind
around His plan and why Billy’s autism had to be a part of it. I suppose I shouldn’t
(Trust me, when
I stand at Heaven’s Gate that’s the first question I’m going to ask!)
Until then I
will continue to pray, not for what I want but for what He wants.
Jesus, I trust in you.
Oh, I still have a prayer wish-list. I pray for strength. I pray for patience. I pray for grace. I pray
for understanding and acceptance. I pray for peace within the autism
Because I have faith, every day is #autismsunday.
* * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
Despite numerous twitter messages throughout the day on February 12, 2012, the #autismsunday hash tag never did “storm”,
let alone “trend” in the United States. It was hugely overshadowed by the #Grammys and the sudden death of former
Pop superstar #WhitneyHouston.
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