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I Believe

From a Christmas season not so long ago.

The holiday season was fast approaching. I mentally organized what I hoped to accomplish that night: First, the Christmas cards to those who had worked with Sam in the past year. Then, package their gifts.

The cards were already selected: simple and white with a small Santa engraving –whimsically elegant with plenty of white space for Sam’s large scroll. The stock was both heavy and soft to the touch. I had chosen the cards envisioning the juxtaposition of elegance and Sam’s childish script.

I laid out the cards and like a drill sergeant directed Sam to sign them, “Love, Sam.” I was surprised by an unexpected protest.

“Want write. Want write,” he insisted. Translation: he disagreed.  I groaned and thought that he was going write “underwear” all over my beautiful cards. Sam had been obsessed with writing “underwear” for the last few weeks. I was certain today would be no different. More firmly I said, “Just write Love, Sam”.

Again he refused. Looking to compromise, I found a piece of blank paper and said “OK, Sam. Write what ever you want here and later we will sign the cards with just your name.”

Sam accepted this and picked up his pen. I watched in surprise as he slowly and carefully wrote:

Message from a young man with autism: Believe.

Sam looked up and said firmly, “Want write believe.” Taken aback, I asked, “Believe what, Sammy?” He responded emphatically, “Believe. BELIEVE!”

A little humbled, I thought: Believe in God; believe in Santa Claus; believe in Sam. Believe in miracles.  Just believe. A perfect message. Within the subtext was an important reminder: never assume that just because little is said there isn’t something worth listening to. 

Somehow this story doesn’t feel complete to me without a fast-forward to 4:45 AM the next morning when Sam greeted me with a mischievously boisterous, “WAKE UP, TRASH!”

I truly hope that greeting had more to do with his pal Oscar the Grouch and less to do with his general opinion of me from the prior night.

I believe I’ll never know.

Janet Amorello

Blending with Autism

2011

This is a modified version of an article which first appeared on Janet Amorello’s blog, Blending with Autism.


The views expressed in this story are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the NLM Family Foundation.

 

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