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How Autism Shaped One of the Most Important People in My Life

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Dear Autism,

I knew we were going to be intimately acquainted long before my son got his official diagnosis. I saw the signs, and I worried, but I was also so completely and blissfully in love with my son. His quirks made me happy. His obsessions became my obsessions. I soon learned every business in our town with Thomas the Tank trains and ceiling fans. It was just our life, and although there were worries, frustrations and struggles, I loved being a mom to Pete. I still do.

I’m lucky that my son is growing up in a time where I can read about the neurodiversity movement and what adults with autism have to say on the Internet. There is no way I could imagine my Pete without autism — so much of him is tied to being autistic. I wish some things were easier for him, but there is no way I would undo his autism. He would no longer be Pete, and at only 13 years old, Pete is one of the best people I know. I can only imagine the wonderful man he will become.

I should also thank you for turning me into the mother, and really, the person, I am. I am a better person with autism in my life than I ever would have been without it. Because of autism, I know how to advocate for both my sons. I learned early on that if I didn’t push myself out of my own comfort zone to help Pete, he would not get what he needs or deserves. That changed me. I also quickly learned which of my friends are true friends. Having an autistic son is a great bullsh*t detector. I don’t care anymore if people want to judge my parenting. I know it’s none of their business, and I know my family is fine.

Another great thing about having autism in my life is it’s helped me get to know other people with autism besides my son. I’ve met people with disabilities other than autism and their parents and families, too. These are my people. I found where we fit in the world, and I like it here. Pete participated in Special Olympics earlier this year, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it was one of the best days of my life. The feeling of being surrounded with love and acceptance is something I will carry with me for a long time.

So thanks, Autism, for your part in shaping an extremely important person in my life.



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Originally published: March 6, 2015
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