In a more expansive view, my sorrow and irritation stem almost entirely from the belief that she could be different, should be different, and that my life could and should be different. But what’s wrong with this soft summer day and her slow pacing in the side garden, eyes on the grass, humming to herself while I wash the dishes? I think, “She was born to be a child,” and in the next breath, I realize how my thought condemns her. She was born to be herself, and nothing more or less than that.

A few days later, a friend is telling me about his teenage daughter, their discovery that she has unexpected health problems likely to linger.

”It’s such a tragedy,” he says.

And suddenly, I am on his daughter’s side.

”Don’t say that,” I tell him. “Don’t ever say to her, and don’t say to yourself, that there is any tragedy in who she is. She is what she is.”

Sallie Tisdale, “On Spectrum”