This Is What I’ll Remind My Son When Someone Makes Fun of Him


But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show 
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful 
Like a rainbow

I smiled as I heard the familiar 80s tune playing from my phone. My son, Matthew, had signed to ask to use my phone. This was progress since he used to just take my phone. One of his favorite things to do is to play music from my iTunes. “True Colors” is one of his latest favorite songs to play.

While the rest of the song doesn’t necessarily fit, I feel like the chorus could be Matthew’s theme song. The songwriters, Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, didn’t know Matthew when they wrote it. He wasn’t even born yet. But when I hear that part of the song I feel like it was written just for him.

Matthew’s true colors:

Red

Red is for his charismatic personality. He has a way of winning people over. There’s something endearing about the way he can get people to do just what he wants without speaking a word. He takes a person’s hand in his and somehow has a way of making that person feel special… that he chose them to hold his hand. Once that person feels special, they’re like putty in his hand. A friend of ours was watching him for us one day after school last year. She sent me a picture of him in the baby swing at the park. I laughed and asked her, “How did you get him in there? He’s too big!” She said, “Well, he really wanted to go in that swing.”

Orange

Orange is for his love of vacuums. If you read my post, Whatever it Takes, you already know that he loves vacuums. I don’t think he’s met a vacuum he didn’t like. There’s a lot to love about vacuums; the rumbly sound, the slightly dusty smell, the feel of the air on your hands or face, the plastic to tap and the bumpy hoses to feel, etc. At Meet Your Teacher night, his new second grade teacher showed Matthew the vacuum she had bought just for him. The vacuum that he would be allowed to use on the classroom rug at the end of the day. (I would say his teacher knows something about winning people over, too.) At school, he works to be able to watch the custodian use the vacuum or the floor cleaner (that’s an extra special treat). There’s a local Chinese restaurant that we used to go to, and we would have to hold his hand extra tight when coming and going because he knew right where they kept their vacuum cleaner. One day, we were at a local department store and there was a worker vacuuming. Matthew had to sit down (criss-cross-applesauce) right there and watch him. This month we bought a new vacuum cleaner and almost every day he asks me to vacuum when we get home from school. My floors have never been so clean!

photo (9) (1) Yellow

Yellow is for his love of music. Both on his iPad and my phone, he’ll sit and pick music on my iTunes. He creates his own slideshows by picking a song and then going into the photos and looking through them. Right now he’s sitting next to me on the porch playing a video clip of Lady Antebellum in concert. He’s playing it over and over, and I think he likes the extra hooting and hollering of the fans. He’ll also select apps because he likes the music playing in the background. He’ll hold my phone up to his ear and listen very intently. He’s obviously not too picky about his music though, because he’ll still ask me to sing to him. I can’t sing, but Matthew doesn’t seem to care.

Green

Green is for his love of jumping. Ever since he could walk he has loved to jump. He also jumps when he’s super excited about something. (After the store worker moved to another section of the store, but still within earshot, Matthew looked like a jumping bean. If jumping beans squealed and flapped, that is.) During therapy he’s still able to get his therapists to “jump him.” He faces his back to them, and they pick him up at the waist and jump him into the air. It’s definitely an upper body workout for them, and there’s going to come a day when they just can’t physically lift him anymore. The week before school started we tried out Helium, which is a trampoline park. The place was something out of his dreams, I’m sure. There’s no doubt that we will have to go back. A couple weeks ago we went on a bike ride, with me pedaling and Matthew in the ride-along carrier. I swear I didn’t pick this route to torture him, but we went past a festival, and they had about three different bouncy areas and then we passed four different block parties, and they all had bouncy houses. I thought he was going to burst out of his skin! He signed “jump” at me the rest of the day.

Blue

Blue is for his sensory seeking ways. Touchingtapping garbage cans, wastebaskets, walls, orange cones, the inside of the freezer, boxes, coffee cups; scratching box lids, bottoms of slippers, lids to coffee cups, the sides of the car; pounding walls, doors, wastebaskets, garbage cans; stimming by flapping his face with a kleenex, paper towel, receipts, his microphone with a plastic piece that hangs down. Hearing: most of the touching from above creates sounds, music, the vibration of the car when the window is rolled down, shaking things to make noise.  Smelling: things before he eats them, Daddy’s coffee, Mama’s tea, bottoms of shoes and slippers, flowers, things made of plastic, rubber, wood, cardboard.

Purple

Purple is for his ability to problem solve. An overturned wastebasket makes a tall stool. We find these right under closet doors with latches. Luckily for us, he has not figured out how to undue that particular latch… yet. In the laundry room he’ll overturn laundry baskets to get cleaning wipes on the shelves above the sink. Just today he wanted to get into the basement (which was latched). He stood on a giant package of toilet paper and found the kind of latch he can undue. Fortunately, he was caught red-handed by Daddy. One night at dinner, my daughter, Abby, went into the kitchen to get something and when she returned she exclaimed, “Why do I have more green beans now?”  We looked at Matthew’s plate and he didn’t have any. Pretty clever. If she would have been a green bean lover, she probably wouldn’t have even noticed. He’ll also make up signs for words if he doesn’t know the sign. Then he consistently uses that sign to stand for that word. That takes some huge problem solving skills.

I know that he’s at an age where his classmates and peers still accept him, because that’s how they have always known him. As Abby often says, “That’s just Matthew.” But I’m sure there will come a time when someone will say something to him or make fun of him for the behaviors and loves mentioned above. I won’t always be there to stop it or defend him, but maybe I can keep reminding him of these words…

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors

And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors

True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow

This post originally appeared on Autismic.

Meet more Mighty moms. Like us on Facebook.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related

Supermodel With Rare Skin Disease Proves Different is Beautiful

Chantelle Brown-Young is helping to redefine the face of beauty. The 20-year-old from Toronto, Canada, has a pigmentation disorder called vitiligo. Vitiligo creates unusual looking patches of white on her skin where melanocytes, or pigment making cells, have been destroyed, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. About one percent of the [...]

Why I Stopped Trying to Make My Son ‘Typical’

When Morgan was first diagnosed with autism, my husband and I were in “fix it” mode. Our end game was that Morgan would be indistinguishable from other children. We wanted him to pass for typical. We wanted him to be happy at all costs, as long as those costs were within our scope of reasoning. [...]

Parent Like There’s No One Watching

My friend told me once that I could find the silver lining in anything. Here’s a big one that I’ve found: being a parent of an autistic child has humbled me and made me a better parent. Specifically, I’ve stopped caring about what strangers think about my parenting skills. It took me a lot of [...]

Precious Photos Show the Unparalleled Bond Between a Girl With Autism and Her Cat

We’ve read and reported on a few stories about therapy dogs. This story is about a cat, though — one who’s helping a little girl with autism connect with the world. In the photo above, 4-year-old Iris Grace, a child who’s made headlines before for her incredible paintings, snuggles up to her four-legged best friend, [...]