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I Want Someone to Think of My Son With a Disability

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I sat at my bestie’s kitchen counter and tried to put into words my feelings as I fought hard to hold back the tears. I rambled, I stammered. I said things like, “I know it might not bother him the way it bothers me…” and “I know kids might not see him as a close friend…” and “…after all these years, it still feels like a knife in my heart.” She nodded, she empathized, she understood. Then in seven simple words, she stopped my rambling, “You want someone to think of him.”

No more rambling, no more stammering. My bestie summed up the words in my heart that my brain couldn’t seem to muster. Yes, it’s that simple, I want someone to think of him.

To parents loving a child with autism, you might understand how profound those words were to me. The words may not seem profound, but, for moms who “get it,” we might like that quote on a bracelet, in a meme and those seven words might possibly be my next tattoo.

Like most parents, we want someone, just one person, to think of our child.

I want someone to think of him, and that has been all I have wanted since the first time we heard he has autism.

When I found him at daycare under the slide alone not knowing how to play, I wanted someone to think of him and sit silently next to him digging in the dirt.

When he stood by the doors of his elementary school waiting for recess to end so he no longer had to worry about bugs, thunderstorms and wind, I wanted someone to think of him and stand by the door next to him while he waited for the bell to ring.

When he sat alone with only his mother, the chaperone, on every single field trip, I wanted someone to think of him and come sit next to us at our empty table.

When he invited friends to his birthday parties I wanted someone to think of him and reciprocate the invitation when their birthday celebration came around.

When he struggles with what to say or do next in a social setting, I want someone to think of him by helping him out with prompts or suggestions on how to respond.

When he doesn’t say or do the “right” thing, I want someone to think of him and suggest what he should say or do the next time so he isn’t afraid to try.

When he pulls away because he fears rejection or some type of social blunder, I want someone to think of him by always standing by his side and making him feel like he belongs and that he is not less.

When he struggles with initiating a conversation among his peers, I want someone to think of him and talk to him about Pokemon or Minecraft, his safety net, so that he will feel like he belongs somewhere and that someone cares about his interests.

When the musical, the play, the chorus recital or the school year ends, I want someone to think of him and ask him to join them for pizza or a movie. Or better yet, some Pokemon raids.

When he feels less, I want someone to think of him and assure him he is more by accepting him and being his friend.

I want someone to think of him.

And yes, I’m aware these statements all begin with “I” want, not “He” wants, and I don’t proclaim to know what Ryan wants at all times. But, I do know he has felt invisible, isolated and alone, and that there are times, he wants someone to think of him.

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Originally published: December 8, 2017
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