“Hey, she’s pretty good at that,” said the man as he reached across the deli counter with a slice of provolone cheese in his hand. The cheese was for our daughter Danielle, who stood next to our shopping cart waving a long strip of crepe paper like a flag. The paper would move through the air in swirls and figure eights like in a parade or pageant. The man behind the deli counter was quite impressed by Danielle’s virtuosity in this regard.
For some reason Danielle likes to wave long strips of paper through the air in patterns. It’s one of the many mysteries surrounding her life as a child with autism. She cannot tell us why she does this or what it means. But we can see the intent look in her eyes as they follow the paper’s trail and the smile on her face, brimming with delight.
Until that moment we had never realized that there was a marvelous quality in Danielle’s paper trails. Frankly, we were a little embarrassed by the behavior. We saw it as a “sensory stim,” something neutral at best, or even something undesirable to be worked on by her therapists to extinguish.
We think the deli man understood something we had not. We think he understood what a faith-filled life is all about. This smiling man behind the counter helped us learn better how to see our life with Danielle through a lens of faith, to see the wondrous and magical moments as we go about our ordinary lives. We have come to see such moments as an unfolding of God’s presence.
David and Mercedes write and speak from a faith perspective as parents of a child with autism. You can find them at DavidAndMercedesRizzo.com.