My Son With Autism Is Worth the Time It Takes to Get to Know Him

My autistic son was identifying cars as we went down the road today. His obsession with cars leads him to count and name every single car we pass without error – something that impresses me more every day. Suddenly, we pass a new area of development, and he says something, but I can’t understand him.

“A new what?” I ask him.

He answers, but I still don’t catch it.

“A new road? Yeah, it’s pretty new.” I answer, taking my best guess.

“A new neighborhood,” he gets out a bit more clearly this time.

He repeated himself three times without showing signs of frustration.

“I’m sorry I didn’t understand you at first,” I tell him, feeling bad that he had to repeat himself so much. I often get irritated when I have to repeat myself even one time, and he did it three times without getting angry or upset.

“Don’t apologize,” he says to me. I look over at him and see a look of sincerity and understanding I rarely get a chance to glimpse. “It’s not necessary,” he says in one of those rare moments of clarity that tell me  there’s more to him than meets the eye.

This is the child some people find difficult. The child who can be violent when overloaded. He looks at me and tells me he loves me after all of this.

I promise you that children like him – children who get explosive at times when overwhelmed or frustrated – know when you want them there and when you don’t. They know if you’re willing to take the time to at least try to listen and understand, or if you’re not.

Think about that for a minute. It took me seeing his face when he told me not to apologize to realize that, just like any other human being (and maybe even more so), he senses whether the environment he’s in is a positive or negative one. Whether the person he’s with is frustrated with him or feels patience. He senses whether people are glad he’s there or wish he would leave. He may not understand why or the exact feelings, but he senses whether he’s emotionally secure in an environment or not. Which one do you think he will work harder to stay in?

He’s worth the time it takes to get to know him. I promise.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

When I Realized Labels Can Enable My Children With Special Needs

Many parents are scared of “labels.” So scared, they don’t pursue a diagnosis for their child because of the fear their child will forever be defined by their diagnosis. I understand this fear. I once shared it too. There is a reason we did not initially share our daughter’s Asperger’s diagnosis with her, or with [...]
Kim Supermutt Goodman

5 Hidden Things I Deal With as a Person on the Autism Spectrum

When people look at me, they see a regular person just like them. Many people think I’m just like them when we first meet, but I’m not. There are a lot of things I deal with that the average person doesn’t see. The first thing I deal with is sensory issues. My eyes are sensitive to bright [...]
woman with low battery sign above head and wind up on back

How the Spoon Theory Explains My Energy Levels as Someone on the Autism Spectrum

When I first became a self-advocate as someone on the autism spectrum, I was introduced to an article called “The Spoon Theory,” written by Christine Miserandino. It explained the concept of one’s personal energy level in terms of a tangible item. Once I understood the idea, I realized that I myself could relate to this [...]
young boy playing with a red balloon

When I Try to Help My Son on the Autism Spectrum Understand His Birthday

Today is your birthday! We are celebrating you! It’s hard to believe you’re turning 5. But to you it’s just like any other day. That’s because abstracts are hard for you to understand. So I buy you a pin that says “Birthday Boy” and hope you will wear it. Maybe it will help make more sense [...]