An Open Letter to My Autistic Son

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphoto.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

 

Jack,

I can only imagine how difficult the school years have been for you. There have been countless days of you coming home embarrassed , ashamed, unsure and afraid. You have endured being made fun of, not fitting in, feeling like an outsider and dis-included from the group.  Your reservation in self advocacy has made your dad and I step on countless times on your behalf, even against our better judgment. We have been up nights pondering the consequences of solving a problem quickly for you vs. watching you trip, stumble and fall to solve your own. All the while it has played on your thoughts as you develop who you are, what you believe you can do and where you belong.

In this last year of high school, we are bittersweet with anticipation about what's to come. Happy to know that this tumultuous journey is about to end, we rejoice in the countdown of days. Fearful that life, as We know it, may come to a huge shock to you. Are you prepared? Are you ready? Do you know what it all means?

These questions led me to consider you as a child and your need for straightforward, literal instructions in order to breed success. The same holds true now. How are any of us to know what being a grown up is unless we are told?

Many of us fumble upon these realizations by mistake, after moving to a dorm and learning that there is no one there to wake us up and whisk us to class if our alarm doesn't go off.

There become fewer options in the fridge to choose from and even fewer tolerant people surrounding you, waiting for you as you whine about there being “nothing to eat”.

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphoto.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Bosses become more demanding, less understanding and relentless with following policy, procedure and schedule. There are no study halls provided that help you make up for lost time, or guidance counselors that let you air your dirty laundry, cry on their shoulders and give you the time you crave to register yourself when things don't go well.

And while we are on the subject of things not going well, you have to know this: THEY WON'T.

Things will not go as you planned, how you anticipated or how you would like. Unfortunately you were born into this world where shit happens… all the time.

If I could have raised you in a bubble and presented you to a fairy tale world to live out your days, I would have. Believe me.

I am sure most parents would agree that the heartbreak they feel watching their child grow up in this world has been agony mixed with moments of pure defeat. The fairy-tale is what we all wish for. The reality is what we have.

But knowing you, I know this:  in times of great difficulty, you will persevere.

With that being said, I have written a list of instructions on how to “be” an adult. My hope is that this list of descriptive actions and mindsets will guide you, entice you, motivate you and help you find your success.

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphoto.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

  1. Help out and lend a hand without being asked.
  2. Look for small ways to make someone else’s day easier.
  3. Act on your instincts and impulses that drive you to be of service. There is never any shame in doing the right thing.
  4. Be willing to outstretch your hand for an apologetic gesture in order to open up a space for re-connection.
  5. Become a master at active listening. Set down whatever you're doing and give your counterpart your full attention, with your body, mind and heart.
  6. Be specifically grateful and say “Thank you” when you recognise someone else’s efforts.
  7. Contribute to any household you reside in as an equal, not a dependant.
  8. Become aware of what you take and how much you give back.
  9. Continue to practice creating compassionate stories to replace your judgments. They will free you of anger, frustrations and disappointments.
  10. Use the “Yes, and…” approach (that you learned in Improv class and at home) as often as you can.  It will build bridges instead of walls.

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphoto.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Of course there are the logistics of adulthood that are important to learn as well.

Things such as:  paying your bills on time, not overspending, learning to prepare meals that keep you healthy and happy, the importance of a washer and dryer and the ability to fix a flat and parallel park will keep a roof over your head, your belly full, your body neat and clean and have you on your way!

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphoto.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

The rest, well, we will certainly figure out together.

All my best intentions and ALWAYS…

ALL MY LOVE,

Mom

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