learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Not Broken

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.


  1. Janice

    I wish the world could read this post and understand the magic you are sharing. You have a gift…. a gift of being able to share your emotions, your truth so that others can learn. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all simplify our minds, at least in moments when the truth & beauty & innocence could be magical if only we’d stop to look. Sadly, many don’t listen to what you’ve just shared… many will listen but not take the time to actually embrace, actually process, actually learn from the depth of your knowledge, your experience. I’m going to keep this post with me ’cause I know I’m going to allow myself to become overwhelmed with life & when I catch myself – I’m going to sit quietly to myself & relearn from these words….

    • mamabear

      It’s all the doing of my little guy and his friends/peers. His journey is only just beginning and I’ve met amazing people who just teach me stuff every single day. I’ll get comments about how hard it must all be and you know, it is hard, but the rewards are too numerous to measure. It’s worth the hard.

      Now remind me I believe that the next time J is trying to put his foot through the entertainment center or I am scrubbing Mystery Stains out of the carpet. 😉

      Thank you, sincerely, for your kind words – all my random goofyness aside.

  2. anne rossetti

    Another beautiful essay.
    I am not in your circumstances, and can never truly know what you experience (as none of of can truly know what another experiences). But, please know that your beautiful and wise posts mean a lot to me in ways that I cannot explain. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing.

    • mamabear

      I wish that there was a “hug” button, like there’s a “like” button on Facebook. 🙂

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