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To My Autistic Son: It Was Always You

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When we first heard “autism” it was me, your mom, who had to learn the best way to reach you, teach you and love you. It was me who educated, advocated and fought to make sure you felt safe, happy, accepted and loved. But throughout most of this journey, my son, it was you. It was always you.

It was always you who found unique ways to show me what you needed when you were younger and unable to communicate your wants and needs with words.

And it was me who needed to open my heart and my eyes to see.

It was always you who found a way to get through a tough time, a tough day, a tough, new change and although it was so hard watching you struggle, it was always you who got me through it too. And it was me who needed to learn.

It was always you showing me the beautiful and unique way you saw the world when I kept trying to show you how you were “supposed to” see the world.

And it was me who needed to see the world your way.

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It was always you doing your best to make me stop and see you and appreciate the gloriousness of you in today’s moment. And it was me who needed to stop focusing on tomorrow’s moment.

It was always you who explained your desire for quiet, your need to be alone and process the social nuances of a very confusing world in a way that made you feel safe. And it was me who had to learn that your way is not my way.

It was always you who made me listen to the unique and fascinating ways your scripts eased your anxiety to communicate in a way that made sense to you. And it was me who had to finally stop and hear you.

It was always you who showed me how confusing and upsetting a world of gray can be. And it was me who finally saw the color of your black and white world once I understood.

It was always you who showed me that “different” was not wrong, bad, less or something that needed to be “fixed.” And it was my narrow perspective of only the world I knew that was most certainly “less.”

For years, Ryan, I thought it was me who needed to show you, teach you and transform you to fit the expectations the world prescribes for you. But it was always you showing me, teaching me and transforming me to your world, a world that made sense to you and that is by no means less. A world that is honest, genuine, real and beautiful.

People say, “He is who he is because of you.” They couldn’t be more wrong. I am who I am because of you.

It was never me, son. It was always you.

Originally published: July 12, 2020
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