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To My Son With Autism as He Prepares for College

Dear son,

I don’t know where to begin. At the beginning certainly makes sense. Don’t all stories start at the beginning? Your story just began a bit differently than the average student heading off to college this fall. The tone and background of your story may not read like most of your fellow students, yet, here you are, somewhere in the middle of your story, a story that had many unexpected plot twists and turns, a story that may not have gone in the order most stories do and a story that some foreshadowed would not reach this pivotal point in your tale.

Although your story may seem different than most, you have arrived at the same place in the story as many of your peers who followed a more traditional story line, a story that may not have been as difficult to compose. As a fan who has followed and absorbed every word of your story since it began, I could not be prouder.

You see, your story had various antagonists and conflicts that could have very easily caused you to rewrite this part of your story. These struggles made your story harder to write, harder to close a chapter and harder to predict an ending. Regardless of how difficult the conflicts that continued to arise in your story were, you pushed through finding solutions that fit the narrative you saw for yourself. What’s so beautiful is that no matter the changes, the typos, or the edits others believed would make your story “better” or like other stories they have read before, it has always been your tale to unravel, in your words,at your pace.

Although you are nowhere near the ending, you have reached a crucial moment in your story that many readers didn’t see coming. As the various conflicts in your story came to light, you have shown the many characters, regardless of their role, that you, and only you, held the power to write and construct how you wanted your story to go. I have to admit that through some of the tougher chapters, I didn’t foresee this part in your storyline. I’m sorry for the times I turned the page too quickly making assumptions of what I believed was coming next and getting in the way of how you wanted your story to go. I was trying to read and comprehend your story through my lens, not yours. And it has always been your story to tell.

We have both learned so much to reach this point in your story. I’m so grateful for all I learned as I followed your story reading your words, your truth, your message and the lessons you taught me along the way as we turned the pages together.

As you head off to college, I will continue to read this next chapter of yours as it materializes. However, now I won’t be as close to the storyline to provide suggestions or edits as you write these next chapters without me hovering over your shoulder waiting for what you will write next. You will be responsible for whatever changes you think are necessary to get you to the ending you want. But I hope you know, that no matter where your story takes you, I will always be the first one to read the pages you so eloquently and patiently write, in your words, in your way, as your story continues to unfold.

I love you so much Ryan, and I’m so grateful to have been part of your story. I am humbled by the powerful moral your story has given me and thousands of others, the reminder that not all stories are written the same way and that is precisely what makes your story unique and worth reading. Not everyone who reads your story will understand it, but, that does not mean your story is any less worthy to tell. The readers who don’t get it may not be your audience, so their ambivalence or ignorance does not fall on you, the storyteller, it falls on them to expand their minds and their hearts by reading accounts that do not look like narratives they have read before. Always remember that even the stories that are harder to tell and more complex for readers to comprehend have some of the most beautiful endings.

This is certainly not the end of your story, son, and as you continue to spin your tale, don’t let anyone tell you what should or should not be included in this next chapter. You are the writer, the illustrator and the editor of your story. And regardless of the setting, the characters, the conflict and the resolution, you, and only you, get to determine how your story will go. I can’t wait to see what you write next.

You are my heart.

I love you so much,

Mom

Image Credits: Kathy Hooven