This awesome post beautifully sums up an unexpected benefit of having a developmentally delayed child. As Mermaid heads into that great battlefield we call adolescence, she does so with her sense of self fully intact, not caring how she looks or what anyone else thinks of her. It's a quality we could all use.
Enthusio's therapist talks a lot about helping him get in touch with his "essential self" -- those qualities of goodness and wholeness we all have that are the real us, not the constructs of our personalities that keep us protected from the outside world. I admit kind of thought she was full of crap for a while -- you know, "come on, lady -- we just want him to be able to go to school without crying everyday" -- but the more I heard about it, the more I realized that getting in touch with the essential self is a real and positive thing, and we are fortunate enough to have a living, breathing example of it right here in our family.
We focus on all the downsides of autism, and there are many. I wouldn't wish it on any family. But the other side of the coin is what autism doesn't do -- it doesn't allow the child to separate from that essential self that will serve her well when puberty comes knocking on the door in a few years.