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Yes, Love really does conquer all

on February 8, 2012

A couple of posts ago, I featured a YouTube video about a little girl named Maddox, who has Down’s Syndrome. When I did that, I explained a little bit about how certain aspects of the video had really affected me personally. But there was one quote from the video that still touches me deeply, and, at times, brings fresh tears to my eyes. That quote from a little girl’s Mommy to the world simply said:

“I want to fall in love.”

Why did that affect me so much? What was it about such a simple statement that haunts me every day? It is because my son also has a disability that makes him different from his peers. My five-year-old son has Autism, and is currently struggling to make conversation, along with some other key life skills that typically developing children have mastered.

My point in saying all of this is that we don’t know what level of disability he will have as he grows older. See, Autism is like a rainbow…it’s made up of all these different types of kids who have autism, but none of them are ever completely the same. That’s why Autism is typically referred to as “Autism Spectrum Disorder” (ASD). Some kids end up being very high functioning and live out a pretty normal life after a certain amount of therapy. Others may never speak, or learn to communicate in an effective enough way to live on their own.

When my son was first diagnosed, at age 3, his doctor commented that she had seen many children with similar behavior who had gotten to about third grade and ended up being a lot like a typically developing kid, just with some “quirky” habits. But, although Alex has achieved many great things in the last 2 years, he is not yet on track for the road we were hoping to travel.

Now, I may be worrying over nothing, but essentially I fear the great unknown. And the great unknown means that I don’t yet know if Alex will be high-functioning or if he’ll be living with us for much or all of his life.

And my greatest fear is that, if he is high functioning, I don’t know if he’ll develop the ability to fully bond with, or relate to, his peers. A lack of empathy is a well-known symptom of the high functioning form of Autism called Asperger’s Syndrome, where communication develops and intelligence is usually high, yet the individual fails to grasp some key elements that are important to relationships, such as the ability to empathize (or literally understand) the way someone else is feeling. Appropriate social interactions can be taught, but people with Asperger’s may never feel fully connected to the rest of the world.  Research tells us people can still *feel* their own emotions, but they often don’t comprehend why someone else may be feeling a certain way.

The concept of Asperger’s used to break my heart (keep reading to see why it “used to”). The thought of my son not being able to empathize with others, or develop meaningful relationships absolutely terrified me. There’s a reason for this…I am personally an incredibly emotional person, and I often take time to spend time with others who need to talk. And if I can empathize with them, if I can share my experiences that are related to theirs, I do. That’s my heart, and it’s just a huge part of who I am. I believe in love. Compassion is very important to me. It’s why I started this blog.

So how does this all relate to a little girl with Down’s Syndrome who wants to fall in love someday? Well, it’s simple:

I want my son to fall in love one day.

I want him to feel love, and to fully understand the love he is given in return. Someday I want him to relate to a woman enough to hold her when she’s crying and laugh with her because she’s smiling. And I am scared that he may never truly understand that kind of love.  And I can’t wrap my head around why God would bestow such a thing on any human being. I kept racking my brain, trying to figure out what people with Asperger’s are here to teach us, and how they live with never really connecting with people.

Well, I know a man with Asperger’s who was diagnosed very late in life (which is common). I finally decided to speak with him, to try to get a better understanding of how it felt. So I asked him about empathy sort of sheepishly, and he confirmed that it was true, he grew up never really feeling like he connected with anyone, and that it was a hard thing to comprehend the actions and emotions of others. (My heart kind of sank when I heard this, because I was kind of hoping it wasn’t true.) But then he said,

“Until I met my Wife.”

And now I know that there is no need to be afraid of the future, or what kind of Autism my son might grow up with. I know that there’s no need to fear individual symptoms like the lack of empathy, and that there is so much hope and love and compassion out there, that there’s enough for everybody. *Especially* for those people who have a hard time understanding it.

And wouldn’t that be the best way to find love? To one day meet someone who finally triggers a response in you that you’ve never felt in your life? That, my friends, sounds like the true definition of a soul mate.

Research says the odds are stacked against us. I say that Love conquers all.


Note to readers: Please remember that the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome described here are based on my simple research and may or may not apply; note the use of the words “may never connect” and the like, which means that the opposite may also be true. There’s a very important saying when it comes to Autism, and it goes like this: “If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met ONE person with Autism.” Thanks 😉


2 responses to “Yes, Love really does conquer all

  1. As a mother with a child with Asperger’s and a woman with Asperger’s herself, I wanted you to know that both my son and I have extreme empathy for others. It’s not so much we don’t feel what others feel, or understand it–it’s more that we don’t understand the social rules about communication and why there are so many rules. My son developed compassion and deep empathy through the years. When I asked him how he became more empathetic (he’s now 13), he explained that in removing him from the stresses and anxiety of life (I homeschool him for part of the day), he was able to feel safe and relaxed enough to process emotions and social rules. I don’t know if that makes sense to you. But rest assured, many Aspie’s have deep empathy. Thanks for your post.

    • mommy4autism says:

      Thank you so much for your comment; you know, we can never know exactly how Autism (or, in this case, specifically Asperger’s) affects every single person (as they say, if you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met ONE person with Autism)…I almost posted a note to that effect, as I realized that some of this was simply based on information I had gathered, without personal experience. But without feeling it ourselves, we really can’t speak to how it all actually works. And that’s why I wrote what I wrote…because I was scared of the unknown. But now I’m not anymore =) Also, the man I spoke with was not diagnosed until he was, like 40 years old, so he didn’t grow up with much support. I am so glad to hear your story – your son sounds amazing and he is so lucky to have you!

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