For one thing, I love the imagery of being born into the world as a hungry caterpillar, eager to gobble up every leaf within reach.
The caterpillar is not bad. She is not wrong or broken or not good enough because she isn’t a butterfly. She is exactly what she is supposed to be at that stage.
And with a period of incubation and growth in her chrysalis, the caterpillar morphs into the final form she is meant to be. And stretches her wings to fly.
We are also born hungry to learn, eager to try out the world.
For some of us that’s harder than usual, so we creep and crawl and run into sticks that block our way forward, or fall from our branch and have to climb back up time and again.
That’s when we need to incubate, to process experiences and find solutions and get help, so we can grow into our own butterfly.
What comes before the butterfly is not less right, or less worthy of dignity or respect, or less beautiful.
It is less well understood.
Which just means it needs more seeking to understand. More listening. More patience. More compassion. More love.
I went through my own intense incubation period for about four years after I got my autism diagnosis, in which a lot changed. It was sometimes difficult, and often uncomfortable, but it was absolutely worthwhile.
It transformed my life. I call this my Second Chance Life.
One of my earliest and most enduring special interests is Star Trek, and there’s a significant chrysalis reference somewhere in the Star Trek cannon…and that makes me smile.
Major bonus kudo points if you can tell me what it is!
They are fascinating creatures, though…
Did you know that a caterpillar doesn’t actually spin the chrysalis? That’s what a moth does. Moths make an external cocoon around themselves that they incubate in.
Instead, caterpillars shed their outer skin to reveal the chrysalis that’s already underneath there.
The word chrysalis is Latin for ‘gold’ because, although every butterfly species forms a chrysalis of a different hue, many chrysalises are golden.
Many people in the autism community have adopted the color gold for a positive representation of autism acceptance.
The following are excerpts from Cassandra Crosman’s post The Ableist History Of The Puzzle Piece Symbol For Autism
“The color gold is from the periodic element “Au” which is shorthand for autism, and some autistic people choose to go “gold” for autism.
Other autistic people may choose the color red or participate in the social media campaign #RedInstead as an alternative to the “Light It Up Blue” Autism Speaks campaign to be more inclusive of people with physical disabilities.
Some autistic people use crimson gold, combining the red and gold colors used for autism acceptance.”