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My Son Has Autism. That Doesn’t Define Who He Is.

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My 8-year-old son has autism, but it doesn’t define who or what he is.

He’s brilliant, a perfectionist in many ways; he’s black and white, literal, empathetic, plays it by the rules and he’s simple. He’s unique and has capabilities like no one I’ve ever met. He could recite facts about natural disasters and history that I’ve never even heard of. He remembers events, specific dates, times and what one was wearing at said event. He can read a book so fast I question whether he’s actually reading it or not. But then he’ll recite the context back to you without a problem. He’s true and he’s very honest; he will tell it just like it is.

His brain works in ways mine sadly never will. He doesn’t fit into societies norms, and because of this, his special gifts often go unappreciated. My reason for writing this is not to point out all of my son’s strengths or weaknesses. It’s to point out the importance of early intervention.

My pediatrician told me when my son was 2 and a half that he may never speak clearly — or at all — and he may never succeed in school. The doctor was preparing me for the worst, for textbook autism. What a lot of people don’t know is that the spectrum has widened and the characteristics of autism have changed.

My doctor says my son is a miracle. I believe he is a product of a lot of hard work, dedication, tutoring, therapy and love. My son loves hugs and cuddles. He loves praise. His feelings can get hurt. He’s gentle and he loves his younger siblings and has lots of friends. There are things he doesn’t like to do and that he struggles with daily. Yes, we still struggle, and we have bad days. I know everyone’s case is different, but I urge parents to get their kids help early. It made a difference for us. You have to be your child’s advocate and fight for what you believe because no one else is going to. I fought for Jack, and I believe it made a difference.

He’s perfect. He’s mine, and I wouldn’t change him for the world.

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