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The passion of autism

Allison Ziering Walmark is a wife and mother.

Prior to writing for SheKnows, Walmark worked at consumer magazines including Parents, Traditional Home, Tennis, and LIFE. She has written articles that have appeared in Major League Baseb...

Every person should have a passion

What is passion, exactly? There’s Glenn Close and Fatal Attraction "hmmm-let’s-see-what-we-can-do-with-a-bunny-and-a-large-stock-pot" passion. There’s Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex and the City "I-need-those-Manolos-even-if-it-means-eating-Ramen-noodles-for-a-month" passion. Then, there’s the “I-will-help-find-a-cure-for-autism” (or insert your preferred condition/disease here) passion. That’s my passion.

Every person should have a passion

What is passion, exactly? There’s Glenn Close and Fatal Attraction hmmm-let’s-see-what-we-can-do-with-a-bunny-and-a-large-stock-pot passion. There’s Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex and the City I-need-those-Manolos-even-if-it-means-eating-Ramen-noodles-for-a-month passion. Then, there’s the “I-will-help-find-a-cure-for-autism (or insert your preferred condition/disease here) passion. That’s my passion.

Passion is a feeling. Passion is the complete commitment of mind, body and soul. Passion let’s us live life with hope and enthusiasm. Passion is tangible. Passion is authentic. Passion is a gift. My passion — like most parents — comes from my children.

Passion for music

My son, in particular, has, and always had, a passion for music. When he plays piano and sings you see passion in his eyes. You feel the joy in his soul. To watch Ethan’s musical passion is to bear witness to an “atypical” child wage internal war with his inner “typical” child for ultimate domination of his mind, body and soul; his struggle is at once both heartbreaking and magnificent to behold.

Ethan’s long-time speech therapist, largely responsible for helping Ethan find his voice, literally and figuratively, described it best: “I’ve watched the Autism Speaks video countless times… To see his face… to watch him do something that he’s so passionate about… I’ve seen him at his lowest of lows, when he would have inconsolable tantrums on my kitchen floor... To watch him do something he loves, every child should have a passion. Every person should have a passion and follow through with it.”

Less obvious passion

Passion is right in front of us; sometimes it’s not as obvious as a child at the piano. Of my friends’ children on the spectrum, there’s one who has such a keen sense of color that his work out-Cezanne’s Cezanne. Even with the most rudimentary of materials such as candy, glass beads or building blocks, his work is art gallery quality. There’s the child who can name every airplane and its purpose dating back to the Wright brothers; surely if he’s not flying the planes, he will own them. There’s the child who painstakingly hand-selected large rocks and stones on his parent’s property, and created the most magnificent rock wall that would make any stone mason proud. Aside from autism, the common denominator is passion. They are passionate about what they love, and that is their gift.

Ethan’s passion flows through me, and vice versa. After his diagnosis, I would often say, “I don’t wish autism on my worst enemy.” Today, despite ASD, I wish that every family could have an Ethan. Ethan found his passion, and because of him, I’ve found mine. One day, I will help to find a treatment and cure for autism. For Ethan. For us all.

More about autism

Autism and average and schnooks, oh, my!
Autism: That’s what friends are for
Autism and the fairytale

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