Telling Our Son About His Autism – My Messy Beautiful

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It started like every other night.  It could have been any other ordinary day.  Any at all.  The same instructions had been given.  The same teeth-brushing arguments, both pro and con, had been repeated.  The blessed melatonin had been given.  We sat down and pulled open the devotion book but we never read past the date – April 2nd.

Before I even realized what I was saying, I asked the kids if they knew that it was World Autism Awareness Day.  They looked interested and were being exceptionally angelic at the moment.  So I took it a little bit further.  ”You’ve heard the word, ‘autism,’ many times.  But do you know what it means?”  They shook their heads and wanted to know more.

It was happening.  We had anticipated this moment for four years.  When would we tell Caleb about his autism?  How would we tell him?  We decided on the gradual method of slowly, bit by bit and inch by inch, laying down the groundwork.  We wanted them to have a firm foundation in knowing that everyone is different and that is a beautiful thing.  We wanted them to be solid on the fact that God has created each and every one of us so beautifully and wondrously and intricately and intentionally.  We wanted them to have the practice of loving others and seeing past differences to the heart and soul.

Years of anticipating this moment, sometimes eagerly and sometimes anxiously, and it was here.  Even in those first few moments, I was unsure if I should shut it down.  Jake was still at work.  He was missing this milestone.  But the ball was rolling and it was rolling down a steep hill.  It felt right to allow it to continue on its path.  Wherever it led.

We talked about what ASD is and how it can make some things easier and others more challenging.  I told them about some common experiences among those who live life on the spectrum.  And I simply asked if it sounded like anyone we might know.  I could see his wheels turning.  I showed them the episode of Arthur (“When Carl Met George”) and within 35 seconds, it happened.

And right there, right smack in the middle of our messy living room with the laundry piled high and the dinner dishes still on the table and the trash waiting to be taken out, with us and the dog all squished together on the couch, it happened.  It started with his eyes.  They looked brighter.  After five or so minutes, his face had changed.  He looked older somehow.  By the time the video was over, he was eagerly asking, “Mom?  Do I have ASD?”

I took a shaky breath and said confidently – no wait – I said proudly, “Yes, buddy.  You do.  What do you think about that?”

And he knew.

And just. like. it happened to us when we received his diagnosis, his life began flashing before his eyes.  He was seeing it all with a fresh understanding.  His filter had changed.

And he understood.

And he told me about how the things, the hard things, he now knows were the challenging parts of his ASD.  And we talked about how far he’s come.  And how much he’s overcome.  And how he has done the hard things and how he can continue to do the hard things.

And he was proud.

Jake came home from work to find his boy had grown.  Caleb seemed to stand taller as he told his dad about ASD and how God had made his brain special.

He went to bed that night having diagnosed our dog with autism as well.  ”She loves her toy like I love trains.”  And any loneliness he might have felt dissolved away in the solidarity of puppy kisses.

He woke the next morning, ready to share himself with the world.

So, world?  Get ready.  You’re about to get a whole lot of awesome.


mom do i have autism

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Comments

  1. Love! I have a daughter with some delays and we always struggle how to communicate it. I’m so ready for the awesome that are these kids!

  2. Diana Sayre says:

    That is a beautiful story! Your son is so lucky to have you as his mom! :-)

  3. This brings tears to my eyes, a nod to my head, and a smile to my face.

  4. So beautifully written Ashley! I felt like I was in the room with you watching his expressions as you spoke to him. Diagnosing the dog is just precious!

    • I’m so glad you’re here, Angela! Thank you for your sweet words. When he diagnosed the dog, I really thought I might lose it. Both laughing and crying!

  5. Megan Beverly says:

    We’re nearing that milestone with our ASD boy. You made it calm, precious, and appropriate. I hope I can handle it with as much grace and that my boy “gets it” the way yours did.

    • Thank you so much, Megan! I was pretty terrified most of the times I anticipated having this conversation. I’m so thankful it went as well as it did. The Arthur video really helped a LOT. I’ll be thinking of you and your sweet boy!

  6. I could just picture this moment in my mind. Absolutely beautiful. And he is so right . . . God did make his brain special. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • My kids (both of them – each for different reasons) are my heroes. =) Thank you for being here, Amy! I’m so glad you stopped by.

  7. This is awesome! I love how he is so proud of his unique self. It’s a tough thing to have to tell a kid — some of us are lucky enough to get a few more years before we have to struggle with our unique challenges — but it sounds like you have an amazing son.

    Bless you all!

  8. Love this post. Thank you so much for sharing your truth… xo

  9. Good tears! What a beautiful story. he is one lucky kid and you are one lucky mama.

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