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Autism May Be a Spectrum but Love Is Not

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With every autism training I conduct for law enforcement and child welfare personnel, I remind the audience how varied the autism spectrum is and how every individual with autism is as unique as every neurotypical person. Last week, I was reminded how varied the families are as well.

After a training conducted for court personnel, a young father approached me and shared his story about his preschool-age autistic son. His exact words were, “My son is not like Ryan.” His son is still young, and as of yet, nonverbal. They have utilized various approaches to try and help their son we did not. He also told me there are times his wife does not want to “celebrate” autism, and I told him I understood this and respected it.

All of it.

My son is not their son. Their son is not my son. My world is not their world. Their world is not my world. Yet, we all want the world to accept and understand both of our sons and we want every opportunity for our boys to live a happy, safe and successful life.

After this young father thanked me and was preparing to walk away, he stopped and looked at me and said, “My son has changed me. I am a better person because of him. I don’t even know who that guy I used to be was anymore.” And with tears in both of our eyes, we hugged because at that moment we realized that although this world of autism may affect us differently, the effect of loving a child with autism is exactly the same.

Originally published: June 4, 2018
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