The Letter I Think My Son With Autism Would Write If He Could
Dear New Friend,
When you first meet me you might notice…
- A little guy who looks like any other 4-year-old boy.
- I often have bed head and scrapes on my knees.
- I play with trains and cars and pirates and Legos.
- I like to get dirty and wrestle.
- I laugh with my whole heart and have a gap-toothed smile that could make your knees buckle.
If you look a little closer you might also notice…
- A little boy who won’t always look you directly in the eyes.
- A boy who has trouble sitting still and using a whisper voice.
- A boy who seems to be acting too young for his age.
Maybe you’ll think I’m rude. Or disrespectful. Some have even called me spoiled. But those who have spent time with me — they know the real me.
Loud noises and sudden movements can make me anxious, so tread lightly until you’ve earned my trust. I might growl at you and pretend I’m a dinosaur when we first meet. This just means I’m nervous. Be patient with me, and I’ll do my best to warm up to you.
If I do talk to you, I’ll probably use my silly voice, which is hard for you to understand. Then you’ll have to look at my mommy or daddy to translate for me. They do this a lot.
If you try to touch me or give me a high five I’ll probably be reluctant and shrink back. But this doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It just means I’m being careful. I don’t let people in quickly, but when I do, you’ll get my whole heart.
If you come to my house, there’s a good chance I won’t be wearing a shirt… or pants. Clothes hurt my skin sometimes –especially collars and buttons and long sleeves and tags. So my mommy cuts the tags out for me.
If I come over to your house for dinner, please don’t get your feelings hurt if I don’t eat your food. You see, I’m a picky eater. Most foods smell weird to me and make my mouth fill with saliva, and I don’t like how that feels. Strange smells and textures make me anxious.
In fact, I get anxious a lot.
I’m scared of the dark and the sound of the toilet flushing when I’m alone in the bathroom. I’m afraid of doctors and blood and pain — and I love Band-Aids because they hide what’s broken and help me feel some peace. I love to go swimming, but I’ve never put my head under the water. If you were to stay the night at my house, you might wake up several times a night to my screams and cries. Don’t worry too much, I’m just having another bad dream. I have them a lot.
Often times I get so frustrated that I hit and kick the people I love. Sometimes I’ll even throw toys and knock over furniture when I’m upset. I don’t mean to. I don’t want to. I just can’t help it, and after I do it, I feel even worse.
Then with tears streaming down my cheeks, I’ll tell you how sorry I am for hurting you. And even though it’s not always easy for me to apologize, I promise I mean it. Because I know it makes you sad. It makes me sad too. I want to be able to change for you, but I don’t know how — and that makes me even more frustrated.
This world I live in seems to move so fast. And sometimes I just wish it would slow down. I wish I could stay in my undies and eat cookies and play cars and jump on my trampoline and swing on the swings all day. The swings help me calm down.
Rules give me comfort and structure, but I can only take so many of them before it can be hard for me to live in my own skin — before I begin to feel claustrophobic, suffocated — and then I lash out. I have so many thoughts in my head and feelings in my heart, but I can rarely find the words to share those emotions with the people in my life. It feels like we’re speaking a different language, and that can be a very lonely place for a 4-year-old boy.
I feel extra frustrated when things don’t go the way I imagined them in my head. Like when my favorite donut place runs out of the pink ones with the sprinkles. Or when I accidentally color outside the lines in my work book. Or when my sandcastle falls over or when my friends don’t follow the rules of the game we’re playing. Those things make me feel like I’m losing control — and having control is what makes me feel safe.
I know my mommy worries about me a lot. She’s been trying hard to be less worried lately because she has learned this only makes me more anxious. She’s been trying to be stronger… for me.
Sometimes I can here her praying at night. I hear her asking Heavenly Father to please oh please, above all else… make sure Wesley’s happy. I hear her ask for strength. And perspective. And patience. And softness. And faith. Sometimes I want to run in when I hear her praying and give her a big hug so she’ll know I am happy, I really am.
Pirates and treasure hunts are my favorite. And the Octonauts. I love to go on bike rides with my daddy and play frisbee at the park. I love my friends with my whole heart, and I get overwhelmingly excited when they come over to play. Saturday morning pancakes and impromptu afternoon trips to the beach are sure to make me smile. My baby brother is my best friend. He loves me no matter what. Plus, he’s funny too. I can count to 29, and I know all my letters and shapes. Nothing makes me more excited than seeing the look on my mommy and daddy’s faces when I write my own name. They’re always cheering for me. And I love that.
I ache for the people I love. I want to be around them all the time. My grandparents, my aunties and uncles, my cousins. I like to have all the people I care about in the same room with me — that’s when I’m happiest. Because family is my favorite. Sometimes I ask my mommy if we can have a big family like they do on “Full House.” Maybe one day, honey. Then she laughs and ruffles my hair.
And even though it’s not always easy to be me, I know that I’m a lucky little boy. Because I am loved. Boy, am I ever loved. I can feel that love every day. And this gives me strength.
To be brave.
To take deep breaths.
To try new things.
To let new people in.
To give love back.
Because I have so much love to give. And so much to teach my my mommy and daddy. So much to teach the people in my world. About compassion and patience and perseverance. And I know that sometimes things need to be tougher for me so I can learn those important lessons and pass them on to the ones I love. It’s an important job for a 4-year-old boy, but I’ve got this. So don’t worry about me too much – just love me, please.
This post originally appeared on Little Miss Momma.
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