In Sidewalk Cracks: Autism and Authentic Relationships

You on your NT sidewalk square
Me, on my autistic one.

You jump to my square to help me out
Heaven knows
(and so does everyone else)
That I need all the help you can give.

You teach me to copy your ways.
I learn to do so.
I jump to your square and copy you.

You are happy because I am learning
To look like you
To copy your ways in the world.

I am empty.
All I have is you helping me
And me copying your ways.
Is it a wonder the feeling of alien predominates?

There is more to jumping over the sidewalk crack.

Instead, let’s jump in it!
You from your square
And me from mine
Together jumping into the crack between

A real relationship in the making
Not you helping
Not me copying
But instead
Both together

Each ourselves
And together
Friends being!
(Endow, 2013, pg. 204)

Dear Reader,
“I have come to understand relationships by looking at sidewalks. I imagine people each on their own sidewalk square. Growing up I had many helpers. People who were helpers would jump from their own sidewalk square over to my sidewalk square. They would stand by me on my sidewalk square and help me. Eventually, I came to learn their ways.

Once I learned to copy the ways of other people I was allowed to jump over to their sidewalk square and occupy space with them. This jumping around on sidewalk squares happened in various ways for most of my life. It wasn’t very fulfilling. I often felt like an alien, other-ed, sometimes allowed and always oddly different.

Then I learned something new! I learned about jumping into the sidewalk crack with another human being. I discovered that in sidewalk cracks is the place of real relationship. It is the place where we each come as we are and it is perfectly fine. We are at home with each other in this space regardless of which version of self we bring that day. As we jump from our square into this sidewalk crack we find that together we are more than the sum of our individual parts and we find that each is necessary to the other. It is a relationship of equality based on our separate commodities of uniqueness.

I have come to learn that even though I do not measure up to be very many inches when the yardstick of NT normal used, I no longer use these very little bit of inches to define my human worth. Instead, I count all of my inches that nobody has yet found a way to measure.” (Endow, 2013, p.208)

In the process of sharing with you I have come up strong and tall. I grew tall, rising up out of the sidewalk cracks of meaningful friendships. I grew strong in the sharing with you by deciding to count the inches of my tallness that the NT yardstick cannot yet measure. I am blessed. My heart is full. I have you, the reader to thank. If you are still reading, thank you for walking this journey with me. I appreciate you!

99SidewalkCracksPainting is In Sidewalk Cracks 2
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Endow, J. (2019).  Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology. Lancaster, PA: Judy Endow.

Endow, J. (2012). Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic Adult. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2006).  Making Lemonade: Hints for Autism’s Helpers. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2013).  Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2009).  Paper Words: Discovering and Living With My Autism. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2009).  Outsmarting Explosive Behavior: A Visual System of Support and Intervention for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2010).  Practical Solutions for Stabilizing Students With Classic Autism to Be Ready to Learn: Getting to Go. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Myles, B. S., Endow, J., & Mayfield, M. (2013).  The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job: Navigating the Social Landscape of Employment. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Originally written for and published by Ollibean on December 30, 2014