Autism is a bird


Autism is a funny little bird.  He hopped in through a window I hadn’t meant to open. When I turned around, he was looking at me with unsmiling eyes.

I was so afraid.

I tried to shoo him away, asked him to leave 400 times. I was stern. I was pretty fucking rude. But he wouldn’t leave. He didn’t know how to fly. I prayed to the sky, looming gray above the roof of my house for that little bird to leave.  I made deals with voices I shouldn’t have heard, voices that spoke in tongues I didn’t understand.

But the little bird still stayed.  He flapped around the rooms of my house, made sounds like a screeching owl and fluttered around my head fast like hummingbird wings.   He made his nest near my boy and settled in for a long stay.

The bird was horrible at first. He asked me to do things I did not think I could do, things I would not have ever wanted to do.  He did not care if I was tired or hurting.  You, the collective you, would laugh when I brought it with me to the supermarket.  You weren’t being mean, but it was funny to see me chasing my bird around the store.  Sometimes I admit, I laughed too.  I sat right down on the dirty floor in the cereal aisle and I laughed.  Like a mad woman laughs at the gnomes that dance on her back porch.  I laughed because my bird was strange and devastatingly beautiful.  I laughed because I was broken up on the inside and you were staring at me and the bird was chirping for cookies in his little autistic chirps.  I laughed to suffocate the sobs that were climbing up my throat.

The bird stayed.  He grew up in fits and spurts with my boy and I tried to teach him to fly (and ride a bicycle and eat with chopsticks) but he didn’t seem to really want to learn.  He didn’t ask for much.  I fed him cookies and he chirped happy chirps and I figured out how to make him smile.  I decided not to suffocate the sobs when they came and when I did, I found they came less and less.

The bird stays.  He stays and I still wish he would go.  I wish I could see a boy without a bird nearby.  I wish it like you, the collective you, wishes for a million dollars to fall from the sky.  I wish it less and less though.

The bird stays.  He stays because he can’t fly and even though he never may—it’s up to me to help him try.




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