Simple things, brief moments, glimpses frozen in time, these are what parents of Autistic kids live for. They are the fuel that keep us marching. We crave few things more than seeing our child as the person they are without Autism. Such is the content of a picture I'm sharing.
We have countless pictures of Nathan. He's a handsome, photogenic kid. Few are like this one. I can't stop looking at this one. It moves me. What you see here is Nathan's "real smile". Posed, "professional" photographs have never captured it, and probably never will. Fancy, expensive photographic and lighting gear have been upstaged by an iPhone.
Like his dad, Nathan needs a reason to smile, otherwise smiling makes no sense. We never can seem to deliver the real one on cue. Our "cheese smile" is never quite legit. I hated my smile for most of my life.
Enter Layla. This spritely little princess gets us at least one glimpse of the real Nathan smile whenever she's around. None of us have been able fully explain their bond, but it's amazing to watch. They truly enjoy each other's company. The best the analytical side of me can come up with is that they simply give each other unconditional acceptance. At 5, Layla doesn't impose the social demands that Nathan finds so difficult to meet. At 16, Nathan still has "enough kid in him" to indulge in her make-believe play, and just enjoy his little friend. He vacations in her world. For the rest of us, it's just plain fun to watch.
Sometimes, even I find the analytical side insufficient. A far more fanciful explanation is demanded by some things in our world.
Every princess should have her own, personal Giant.