Why We Walk: What Does Not Destroy
Me Makes Me Stronger
January 6, 2006
By Elizabeth Boyd
note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the author
exclusively. Throughout your lifetime, there will be many times you
will think you cannot go on. There will be many times you will think
that something is just too much for you to handle, and you may
simply say, "I can't." During these times, however, I like to think,
"What does not destroy me makes me stronger." These are words to
live your life by. You cannot live your life dreading what's around
the next corner. Everything you strive for, everything you fight for
will make you a better person and help you live your life to the
There are people in this world who
look at life and see only the bad. They only see the things that
have not gone their way or dwell on things that could have been,
forgetting to focus on what they can do this very moment. Take, for
example, a family with a husband and wife, married for 14 years with
four wonderful children. This couple lives their life and raises
their family with the utmost care. They teach their children morals
and manners, but they also try to fill their family's lives with
perfection. They focus on what could have been done better instead
of enjoying special moments with their children. They miss
opportunities that were right in front of them, and sometimes -
sadly enough - it takes something tragic to put things into
For some families, like mine, there
is one word that will change their lives forever, one word that will
make them never again, as some people say, "sweat the small things
in life." That word is "autism," a complex brain disorder that often
inhibits a person's ability to communicate, respond to surroundings
and form relationships with others.
An autistic child, like my little
brother Austin, has to work weeks, months, and in some cases years
to learn things others can learn in a day. An autistic child, like
my little brother, has to learn how to play, how to hug, how to
love. When there is someone in your family with autism, you start to
look at everything you have in your life...and truly appreciate it.
You see what you've accomplished and how it made you who you are
today, how it made you a better person.
"What does not destroy me makes me
stronger" - this is something to remind yourself of when someone in
your family has autism...and believe it is true. If not, you simply
cannot handle seeing how hard your entire family has to work, has to
fight for everything, all for your loved one with autism. You hear
the ongoing battle with insurance companies, when they will not pay
for speech therapy for your brother because he never knew how to
speak in the first place. You hear the insurance company say they
will not pay for behavioral therapy to stop your brother from
banging his head on the tile floor because he cannot tell anyone
what he needs...but they will pay for a helmet for him!
When autism is in your life, you
have to believe that it makes you a stronger person. You have to
believe that you don't get handed anything in your life you cannot
deal with, and that it is all worthwhile in the end. Yes, you may
sometimes wonder how God can make anyone work this hard just to
live. But then you soon realize that this one child can really put
things into perspective.
My perspective comes at moments
when my brother looks me right in the eye and says, "I love you, Bep."
I know that anything I do in my life will never add up to what he
will have to work for his entire life. Now, when I see an obstacle
coming, I hold my head up high and think to myself, "If my little
brother can do it, so can I."
Elizabeth Diane Boyd is a
16-year-old high school junior at Lemon Bay High School in Port
Charlotte, Fla.. She hopes to one day to become a pediatrician
specializing in developmental disabilities.
This essay is part of a series
called "Why We Walk" written by participants in Walk For Autism
Research events. Click here to see other essays from this series. If
you have a story you wish to share about why you walk, click here.