This Poem Sums Up What It Feels Like To Be a Parent to a Child With Autism


I’m on the outside looking in.

And although I’ve been here awhile,

You never really get used to it,

It just becomes your lifestyle.

It’s a different kind of existence.

One that requires a unique type of persistence.

On the outside looking in,

And what do I see,

Lots of children talking,

Their voices sound so sweet.

But my child is silent, no words does he say.

It’s like a part of him is locked away.

On the outside looking in,

And I can’t help but stare

When I see children say they’re hungry or thirsty,

Or tell their parents when they’re hurting somewhere.

But my child’s moans are really all the same.

And so I’m forced to continue this exhausting guessing game.

On the outside looking in,

And when I look around,

I see children singing along to songs,

Their voices abound.

But no melody from my child will you hear.

It makes me wish I could just disappear.

On the outside looking in,

In a state of woe,

As children wave their hands,

To say goodbye and hello.

But my child does not yet know how to greet.

Just another reason I feel the urge to retreat.

On the outside looking in,

I gaze enviously,

As parents give directions to their children,

And their children understand them clearly.

But my child doesn’t comprehend most of what I say,

For him, the simplest concepts are so difficult to convey.

On the outside looking in,

I watch with jealousy,

As children point to whatever interests them

Little hands exploding with intensity.

But my child’s hand stays at his side.

It’s not even something I’ve seen him try.

On the outside looking in,

Tears rolling down my face.

I wipe them away as quickly as I can.

All signs of melancholy erased.

I try to maintain a tough facade, pretend I’m too strong to weep,

Instead I fall apart at night, when my house is dark and all are asleep.

On the outside looking in,

Surely the others must see me

And have some compassion,

At least to some degree.

But unfortunately it seems as though

Very few have any sympathy to show.

On the outside looking in.

Never feeling like I truly belong.

Yet I continue to try to fit in,

Why do I insist on playing along?

I only walk away feeling defeated and more alone.

It’s not something I can continue to condone.

On the outside looking in,

It’s such a lonely place,

I look to the left and right of me,

But there’s no trace of a single face.

I’m always searching, unfortunately to no avail.

Hoping maybe this time, my search will turn up a trail.

On the outside looking in,

It’s not where I chose to be.

It could’ve easily been you and not me,

On the other side of the door without a key.

“This could never happen to my child!” you might’ve said,

But no one can tell what lies ahead.

You just might find yourself where my story begins,

On the outside looking in.

CAM06406

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

How My Father’s Brain Trauma Inspired My Business

At some point in your life, you will receive a phone call that will change it forever. When my phone rang one morning in 2005, and I heard my brother’s voice on the other line, I knew I was receiving “the call.” “Robin, Dad suffered an accident this morning.” The tone in his voice was [...]

Author’s Gripping Account of Her Son’s Condition Challenges How We View Mental Illness

Randi Davenport is a writer based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and her story is one that parents of children with mental illness may recognize. Her son, Chase, diagnosed with autism, began showing signs of a serious mental illness by the time he reached age 14. He suffered horrifying hallucinations, became violent toward himself and even stopped recognizing [...]

To the Occupational Therapist Who Set the Bar High

We met you before we had a diagnosis. You came to our house and worked with our son on what we thought were just delays and sensitivities. Upon seeing some of your first sessions with him, I questioned your methods and your ability to help him. I remember you sitting outside with him on a [...]

Dear Mom Who Said My Child Doesn’t Care About Anyone

Dear Mom Who Said My Child Doesn’t Care, I see how she can come across that way to those who don’t know her. She can seem distant, distracted and aloof. I know she needs to leave play time frequently for a break. I know there are times when she’s trying to control her peers. I know [...]