To All My Friends Who My Autistic Son’s Friend
Don’t think I don’t notice your niceness, your love and your compassion to treat my son like any other child. You come up to him and say hello, you put your hand out to shake his hand, you look for eye contact and will even initiate a hug. Sometimes my son will respond. It maybe a quick eye contact, a hello, a hug and , if your extremely lucky a kiss on the cheek.
I notice when he does not respond you , you do not turn away. You will try again, smile at him, try to get his attention. He may be being “geeky” and stuck to his IPAD, probably playing his Lego Star Wars game for the millionth time. He maybe lost in his world, or thinking about the third movie he wants to watch this week at the theatre. But I know he knows you are there. He knows you are showing love, and, in his own way, he is responding the only way he knows how.
Maybe I never tell you, but I want you to know, I know that you care. And , I know that you are truly a great friend, not just my friend, but his friend too. I just want to tell you , when he does not respond like another typically developing child, and please know I use that phrase loosely, it does NOT MEAN HE DOES NOT LIKE YOU or YOU DID SOMETHING WRONG. His differences are his uniqueness, his smile is his love, and his glances show his affection. Inside , I know you already know this fact.
It doesn’t stop here. I see how you teach your children to be extra patient with my son. I see how you teach your children to include him in games, and encourage him when he may not understand the rules. He has learned so much from your children. He learned to put his face in the water when endless private swimming lessons failed, he learned to play the DSS when expensive therapy failed and, he learned to transition during play when your children moved from playing one game to another.
For all the teachers in his life, words cannot express how I feel when my child comes home from having an amazing day at school. His happiness shows in the ear to ear smile on his face. Your love, patience and teaching to my son will have exponential benefits you cannot even imagine. When he gets up in the morning and cant’ wait to go to school, I know you too cant wait until he comes to school. I see how you teach the children in his class to treat him as an equal, to help him like a friend and to love him like a peer. These children you teach will be the compassionate leaders of tomorrow , and be all what great leaders are about and should be about.
For the rest of you , that I have met in shopping malls, restaurants, the Post Office, who feel I am a bad parent because my child is not responding the way other children do, or feel I am not paying attention or interacting with him when he is quietly playing on his IPAD at a restaurant , or his game is too loud when he is patiently standing with me in line, I have only one thing to say to you, I am a great parent, better than you can ever imagine. Trust me I am no Mother Terresa, but I do the best I can, put my all in it, and love every moment of it. I am actually proud of my son’s successes when he is able to sit in a restaurant with the rest of the family , even if he is on an IPAD. I am proud when he is able to verbally tell us what he would like to eat , even though the speech may not be entirely clear. I am proud when he stands in a line even if he requires the help of Froggy Jump played loudly on my Iphone. And if it bothers you, learn to be tolerant. Learn to be a good human being. And if you can’t , I suggest you leave, because I WILL not leave.
Its too bad you did not take the time to get to know my son, and all the wonderful qualities and love he has to offer. You didn’t take the time to get to know him. To try to patiently make eye contact, to interact with him, to play with him. If you had , you would have known my son loves to play basketball, ride his bikes, is a movie fantatic, loves video games, and loves to be tickled. His favorite foods are oreo cookies, buttered pasta, bananas, grapes, pizza and French fries. Does this sound like someone you know? Well it probably does. Do you know why? Because it sounds like almost every other boy. What a revelation?
For all of you others whom I randomly meet that are loving, patient and understanding, I don’t need to thank you, because you are just great human beings.
We are lucky to have met you, but equally so, you are lucky to have met him