Born in 1989 in Bellevue, Nebraska, Marcus Miller came along at a time when autism was not a familiar term. Pop culture attached it to the 1988 Academy Award winning film, Rain Man, but nothing about that movie seemed to fit with Marcus other than his need for routine.
Now, autism is referred to as a "spectrum diagnosis" meaning that there are varying degrees of what it means to have autism. One end of the spectrum is hardly recognizable from the other end, and our family has both. Marcus's brother, Nathan, exhibits all of the classic signs associated with the high end of the spectrum. He not only can communicate, but he even has a gift for higher expression through his art. He has significant social challenges, but is capable of learning how to fit in, and even thrive, given the support of an increasingly understanding public. Still, the challenges are very real, and cannot be overlooked. Even so, Marcus faces a much steeper mountain to climb.
For Marcus, and those like him who struggle on the lower end of the spectrum, the public has a much further way to go to understand and accept these very unique and beautiful people. There is so much talk of cure, but the best cure for people like Marcus is that of an understanding public that can appreciate people who are wired differently from the norm, and that cure is already available. Marcus taught himself how to sit, sleep, eat, and solve problems in ways that are very unique to him. He does not speak, mimic, nor does he learn by watching others. Whatever he does, you can be assured that he has used his own mental faculties to devise his own method. His way of doing things usually doesn't fit into social norms, and can sometimes be off-putting and sometimes even shocking...but it is his way, and we can't help but appreciate something bordering genius about that fact.
For Marcus's family, the hardest part is wanting more than possible for him in the best sense of how we measure quality of life. Still, with every smile, with every content look after a good meal, or peaceful rest while listening to his music, we are thankful for having this very special man in our lives. He has taught us more about real value, unconditional love, service and gratitude than we could have learned in two lifetimes without him. Because of Marcus, we better understand how God values and sees us, and if the value of a person is reflected by their ability to teach you about the nature of God, then Marcus's value is immeasureable...and it is.