*It goes without saying that everyone is an individual and these things are specific to Peter and his autism.*
I read something the other day. It was written by a parent - they said that they hated their child's autism and wished they could rip it out of them. I do understand where they're coming from as our children face so many challenges every single day and it can be really really tough to look after them, but I think it's a mistake to separate the autism from the child in our minds. It's easy to be negative about the thing that we perceive is stopping our child being themselves, when in reality it's a part of them - they can't be themselves without it!
So without further ado, these are the things I love about Peter's autism:
1) He is easy to entertain. Peter is a sensory seeker for every one of his senses, so the only thing we really have to worry about is sensory overload. He loves loud and quiet noises, all tactile experiences, strong and mild tastes, interesting smells (he doesn't experience disgust at "bad" smells the way we do), physical movement like spinning, running and jumping, visual input like lights, colours, pictures, moving objects. If there's nothing to interest him at any given moment he'll make his own entertainment by moving his fingers in front of his eyes to make the light flicker, looking at things from the corner of his eyes, flapping his hands, spinning, or making loud noises.
2) He takes joy from the little things. Peter really appreciates beauty, especially in nature. He will stop and examine flowers and insects on our walks, and will stand and gaze at running water for what seems like hours, he loves clouds, rainbows, stars, walking barefoot on grass, the wind in his hair, splashing in puddles. The joy just bursts out of him as though he can't take it any more - his whole body will tense up, and then he explodes into laughter, shrieking and flapping. You can't help but smile when you're near him!
3) He wears his heart on his sleeve. He is not secretive, he doesn't hide his emotions, he's not an introvert. When he feels something, we know about it - whether that is frustration, upset, anxiety, boredom or pure joy.
4) He is predictable. Yes, we get it wrong sometimes, but generally we can predict how Peter will react in situations and can prepare accordingly. Activities and days out take far more planning and preparation than they would with a neurotypical child, but if we try to see things through his eyes we can envisage trigger points before they occur and react accordingly.
5) He loves routine. We have no problems at all putting Peter to bed, because the "tea time, bath time, bedtime" routine is such a safe and secure part of Peter's day that he looks forward to it.
6) He is determined. He struggles to understand and make sense of the world every minute of every day but doesn't let this stop him enjoying life, progressing and achieving beyond anyone's expectations.