Defining Our Own ‘Normal’ With Our Son on the Autism Spectrum

“Your son has autism.”

We knew it was coming, yet we weren’t prepared. Our son Mason was just shy of age 2 then — on diagnosis day.

Then came overwhelming thoughts of interventions and therapies, the unanswered questions about his future… there was so much, too much. This is our son, still our little boy, but how can we help him? Will he be OK? Will he ever be “normal”?

Mason is 6 now. And I ask — what is “normal”?

And you know what? We defined our own “normal.” Mason’s “normal.” We haven’t just focused on ways for Mason to enter our world, we decided to enter his. And boy, is it beautiful.

Mase — if you don’t want to play board games or with these toys like some other kids do, that’s OK… take me with you. What do you want to do? You want to put on music, dance with Mommy and spin around in the living room? Mommy is coming. This is so fun. I see how you look at me, and it feels like you’re saying thank you with your eyes. And I could do this with you a million times over just to see that smile.

If you don’t want to play team sports or throw a ball around in the yard, that’s OK… take Daddy with you. What do you want to do? You want to run back and forth doing laps in our fenced yard a hundred times? Daddy is coming. He’s coming with you. You look back at him and laugh while you run, and it seems again like you’re saying thank you. We feel it. And Daddy will do it again and again just to see you so happy.

If you don’t want to play hide-and-seek or superheroes with your little brother, that’s okay… take Richie with you. What do you want to do? You want to jump on the bed? Richie is coming. And boy, are you two having fun. I see the connection in your smiles and in your hearts as you look right at each other while you jump. Richie loves your laugh.

Mason, you are part of us. This is our “normal.” It allows each of us to be part of your beautiful world in our own way. I believe it’s made each of us better — me, Daddy, and Richie. But I also believe it’s made you feel happier, and feel so loved and so confident. I see you then taking this love out into the world every day and trying to be the best Mason you can be. And we really couldn’t ask for more that that. You’re amazing.

As far as your future, Mase — we may not know what it holds, but we promise to always be there. Whatever you need and whatever you want — take us with you.

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