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The teen years-National Autism Awareness Month

National Autism Awareness Month, Bjlane Art

Title: sketchbook-Beauty in her eyes

Medium: Graphite on paper


The Journey continues . . .

For Tammy, my daughter with Autism, adolescence was not an easy journey. Other girls her age were focused on fitting in. They were trying to manage friendships, relationships, and push boundaries with both their peers and parents. Just like those of us who have passed through this journey in our lives, other teens Tammy's age were simply trying to mature and find themselves.

Challenged by a symptom of Autism, as my daughter moved into this stage of development, she had not acquired a visible need to create friendships. She didn't seem to care if she "fit in", didn't reach out to connect with others, and seemed to live in her own mental world. Yet sometimes I would catch a glimmer of desire in her beautiful eyes. As I drew her gaze in my sketchbook, I looked and listened. I imagined she was telling me her wish for the same opportunities that others her age might have ... that she needed friendships, she needed experiences and that she needed to learn more about herself. I felt in my heart that she needed a chance to mature. And I was there to help her. I searched for activities that involved "neurotypical" peers. Girl Scouts, homeschoolers, and siblings provided much of her social interactions. Horse Vaulting, Museum, and special friend gatherings offered her social experiences. I still think of those young girls who were once a part of Tammy's life. They became Tammy's close friends. They learned to care. They matured because of my daughter. And Tammy matured because of them.

My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me. Henry Ford




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