This guest post is from Ron Sandison, who works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. This post is part of an initiative on our site called “In Our Own Words: Living on the Spectrum,” which highlights the experiences of individuals with autism from their perspectives. Have a story you want to share? Email us at InOurOwnWords@autismspeaks.org!
This past December 7th marked the 74th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and also my wife Kristen’s and my 3rd wedding anniversary. When I guest speak on autism, I like to joke, “My wedding anniversary is December 7th, and due to autism, I came into my new family like a kamikaze—a blazing whirlwind of fire.”
When I was a young adult and my dad become frustrated with my autism quirks, he would say, “You’ll never find a woman willing to accept your rigid routines.”
Kristen, by her unconditional love, has proven him wrong.
On our third date, I revealed to her one of my main autism quirks - my inability to deviate from my rigid patterns. I told Kristen, “After work every night, I spend 2 to 3-hours in Bible memory time. This daily routine empowers me to be able to quote over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament, and over 5,000 quotes.”
Again, both my parents agreed. “No woman in her right mind will put up with your memory time!”
Kristen, by her unconditional love, proved my parents wrong.
After we had been dating for three months, I revealed another autism induced quirk of mine - eccentric behavior. As a child, I carried around a stuffed prairie dog named Prairie Pup from kindergarten to sixth grade. I also collected and continue to collect Calico Critters; 3” tall animal figurines dressed with handmade outfits.
My Calico Critters collection reminds my coworkers and friends of a scene from The 40-Year-Old Virgin—hundreds of unopened boxes lined up in perfect rows against my bedroom wall at my parents’ house. My dad, with a concerned voice said, “No woman will want a husband who collects children's toys and stuffed animals.”
Again Kristen proved him wrong, by her unconditional love.
As a gift for the one year anniversary of our first date, Kristen gave me the Calico Critters Meerkat Family. Two years later, we had on our wedding cake Calico Critters; the bride and groom were cats and the priest a beaver. During our honeymoon in the Windy City, as we walked from the train station to our hotel, an angry honey-badger stuffed animal in a storefront display window caught my eye. My special interest took the best of me and the honey-badger found a new home.
My final autism quirk is sensory issues with certain smells and sounds. When I experienced meltdowns as a child from my dad using bleach to clean the bathroom, he would say, “No woman will want a husband who screams and throws a tantrum over the smell of a little bleach.”
Thank God, Kristen proved him wrong.
Kristen has accepted my kryptonite weakness when it comes to electronic noises and bleach. She demonstrates her compassion and sensitivity to my sensory issues by not using nail polish in our apartment or playing music with bass.
Proverbs 31:12 describes my wife perfectly, “She brings her husband good, not harm, all the days of her life.”
Thank you, Kristen, for loving me unconditionally even with all my autism quirks. In March, we will have the arrival of the newest member of our family, Makayla Marie. On April 5, Charisma House is publishing my book, A Parent’s Guide to Autism and I have dedicated my book to my beautiful wife Kristen.