A Letter to My Son on the Autism Spectrum


Dear son,

You were diagnosed with autism when you were 4 years old. I didn’t know what this meant for you, for us. I was terrified, relieved and hopeful, all at once. At least now we knew why you were having the difficulties you were having and could give you the support you needed. The doctor told us autism would bring life-long challenges, but there were some things we could do to help you.

So it began: years of intensive behavior therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. In the beginning, you seemed to wonder why we were putting you through what we were putting you through. I could see you felt hurt, betrayed, lost and confused. I questioned everything we were doing for you. Were we doing the right thing? Were we helping you or harming you? Was this worth the pain you were going through?

Then, slowly but surely, we started seeing a difference. We started seeing you cross one hurdle after another. You were more comfortable, more confident, more in control of the environment around you. You were doing well at home and at school. You had always been very intelligent. You excelled in academics now that you were better equipped to deal with the environment around you. The teachers couldn’t stop talking about how brilliant you were. You always came first in class. You finished your assignments in half the average time. You excelled in knowledge of all the subjects. You displayed an integrity of character well beyond your age.

As you grew older, you started finding it difficult to handle the increasingly complex social dynamics at school, and I watched you start withdrawing from the world around you. You asked me why you were not like the other children. You asked me why you found it difficult to do the things other children could do easily. I told you everybody had something they were good at and something they were not so good at, but you weren’t convinced. You realized there was more to it.

I knew, then, that you needed to know about your autism. You were 10 years old at the time. I was apprehensive about telling you that you had autism, but your response when I told you about it laid any fears I had to rest. You were extremely grateful and relieved upon learning about your autism. You thanked me profusely for telling you about it, because now you understood why you were the way you were, why you did the things you did, why you felt the way you felt, and you didn’t feel bad about it anymore; you didn’t feel like you weren’t good enough or weren’t trying hard enough. You realized it wasn’t your fault, and it seemed like a load had been lifted from your shoulders. I watched as you blossomed from that point onward.

Eventually, it was clear the rigid framework of conventional schooling wasn’t working for you, so we decided to homeschool you. I feel it’s one of the best decisions we made for you.

Your journey has not been an easy one, but it has been one of strength, courage and indomitable human spirit. You make me proud of you every single day through your resilience, your perseverance, your spirit, your strength, your courage, your integrity, your empathy, your clarity, your intelligence and so much more. You are and always will be my hero.

Love you with all my heart,

Mom

Image via Thinkstock.

A version of this post originally appeared on Rainbow in the Clouds.

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