Life Through the Eyes of My Son on the Autism Spectrum
I often wonder: “How does Matthew see the world?”
If I could see the world through his eyes for one day, one hour… would my questions be answered? I know Matty’s view of the world is drastically different from the world I see. He knows how to take an ordinary moment and make it extraordinary. When he looks out our front window each morning, he tells me he is watching. “The Car Show.” He has memorized our neighbors’ schedules and routines, and knows exactly when their cars will pull out of their driveways leaving for work and school. He cheers them on by name from his perch at the picture window in our dining room, he actually claps for them. To him, looking out at the world through his blue glasses, it’s the car show he sees. When I look out the same window, I see a busy suburban street, not a car show. The way this child views the world amazes me.
When Matthew needed a stronger glasses prescription a few months ago, I told the optometrist Matthew requires a frame that’s impossible to break. When you are outfitting a child who once pulled off his own arm cast, you have to realize breaking glasses would really be a piece of cake for him. We were shown two options for indestructible frames. Matty chose the bright blue ones. Honestly, at first I was not thrilled with his choice because I didn’t like the glasses. Now, seven months later wearing them (almost) every day, these glasses have become his trademark, and although he enjoys taking them apart, they have withstood the Matty test and proven to be indestructible. Just like his optimism, his excitement for life and his ability to turn ordinary into extraordinary — all are indestructible.
As Matty and I are driving together and a car nearby beeps the horn (a common occurrence here in NY), I find myself uttering “jerk” – – or something worse — under my breath to the horn beeper. But Matty loves the unexpected beeping, he claps his hands and joyfully hollers, “Again!” His worldview changes my perspective and my thought pattern in a moment.
We were at our dear friends’ house for a New Year’s Party. Ten families arrived through the front door over the course of the first hour of the party. Matthew enthusiastically greeted each family with his triple hop, a few hand flaps and then took each dad by the hand, leading him through the party to greet his own dad who was inside by the fire, enjoying appetizers and conversation. The other boys around Matty’s age at the party were in the game truck playing video games and drinking soda (what boys are supposed to do at a party). Through his blue glasses, Matty saw the party as an opportunity to make sure each party guest felt welcome and connected with his dad.
A few years ago, my dad (Matty’s Papa) was giving a sermon in church (he became a licensed minister in his second or third season of life). When he finished delivering his message and turned around to sit down, Matty, who was about 9 years old at the time, shouted, “Great job, Papa!” as he clapped for him. Papa turned back around and returned to the pulpit to share with the congregation, “I hope God sees me the same way that Matthew does.” This was before Matty started wearing the blue glasses, yet his ability to see the extraordinary and to share love and joy was as strong as ever.
Of course there are moments when seeing the world through blue colored glasses can be hazardous, like when Matty forgets to look both ways before crossing the street, and his limited understanding of stranger danger. He can’t be left alone; he keeps us on our toes for sure. But the world he sees through those blue colored glasses is a place I invite us all to see. He only sees the good in people and in situations through those glasses. What a beautiful way to see the world.
When I tried them on once, the world was blurry. But I know his view is infinitely more positive and optimistic than mine. I have a lot to learn from my boy.
Follow this journey at Dancing in the Rain.
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Getty image by zakokor