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A Half an Hour With My Son on the Autism Spectrum

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Just last week, my brother offered to hang out with my son for a half an hour.

I know this wasn’t easy for my brother. I know he wanted to seem totally nonchalant about the whole thing to make me feel at ease. I know his mind must have been racing…

What if he’s scared of me? 

What if he hurts himself? 

What if he’s totally traumatized by the whole thing? 

All these thoughts and he still offered. What heart. 

As my husband and I left for a 30-minute drive, I started thinking. This simple gift of a half an hour of his time could easily turn into hours, then days/months/years… 

Then my brother would truly know my son, not as someone to be pitied, but as a person with a beautiful soul. One who loves tickles, shoulder rides, playing tag, hugs and kisses. One who lives transparent and free, one who is about as real as a person can get. 

mom and son snuggling

Then, instead of asking me how my son is doing, he could answer for himself. He could honestly say, “He’s perfect” because he will love my son, not for what he can or cannot do, but for who he truly is.

Hope soared in my heart as I saw the glimpse of a relationship forming. This has always been my and my husband’s biggest wish for our son — for him to connect with others, to let people in so they can know and love him as we do. 

So, after the half hour was over, we pulled up to our home.

I was a little anxious as I rang the doorbell.

My brother opened the door with my son at his side. They both had the biggest smiles on their faces. Then my brother said to me, “That was way too short, we gotta shoot for an hour or so next time.”

My heart soared as I smiled the biggest smile right back at them both.

I implore all of you out there, be open, be like my brother and just give half an hour of your time to get to know a loved one with special needs. They may be different, and it may be a bit scary for you, but it can be a life-changing event.

I’m not talking about teaching someone skills — I’m talking about connecting with someone. They may not be able to talk to you, or look at you, or express any outward sense of appreciation, but every time you return, they will feel more and more accepted, more and more comfortable, and they can start to trust you. They can start to realize you don’t want anything from them; you just want to be with them, and they may in turn start letting you in. When you can be present for someone just to get to know them, it changes hearts all the way around. You will start to see that the little things are what makes life beautiful.

Just a half an hour of your time could change a life forever.

And the life changed, just may be your own.

Originally published: September 26, 2016
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