This is something that is hard to write about. I will likely cry through the whole entry but internet, I’m trusting you to hear me out here.
My son has autism. He has sensory processing dysfunction. He is non-verbal. He is delayed in several areas, some significantly.
He is not broken.*
I want people to meet children like my son. They have a lot to teach all of us. Their biggest gift is the lesson that while different, they are no less worthy. They are no less loveable, no less able to learn, no less deserving of human dignities and respect. They are strong, beautiful souls and minds, ready to take on the world in their own way.
Will he do things in the manner most would expect? Likely not. I can’t say definitely one way or the other on that count because, like all children, he surprises me regularly. The quick snapshot most of the world gets of him is just that, a brief moment in time. It does not always reveal the startling depths of his curious, intelligent mind. He is an astonishing problem solver, working out how to meet his self-made goals efficiently and effectively every day.
These are not the signs of someone broken. Of someone sick. Of someone who needs to be somehow altered and remade.
My son needs tools. A lot of tools. He needs more tools than other children his age in some areas. We, as the custodians of the world in which he and his peers live, can give them these things. It’s not hard. It merely requires you to stop and think outside yourself. You will find while you learn to find the tools he needs you learn new things about yourself and the world around you.
People like my son will teach you the true depths compassion and joy can reach. My son’s young mind is so beautifully non-judgemental of the people he meets. They are who they are, and he will take them on their own merits. He finds delight in simple things, making the commonplace truly extraordinary. Some of this is the simple wonder that comes with being a young child with an unfettered mind; a child whose sense of wonder is still gloriously intact. The rest… The rest is J being J and seeing the world through his unique and mysterious lens.
Please don’t try to fix my son. Please don’t try to help me do so. You see, I am blessed. My son is not sick. My son is strong of body and mind. Just be there to offer tools to help him show that mind to everyone he meets and the rewards will be limitless. When you infer that he is broken, you step on a very broken piece of my heart. I have seen parents struggle with children who are ill and could use a miracle. Please don’t speak like we need what they need more. J and I are the lucky ones. Just let us enjoy that.
*= couldn’t completely say that in truth given, well, his broken elbow but hopefully my point is still clear.