I received an interesting text message the other day from my wife asking if she could write a guest-blog. She said she wanted to address those who apologize to after hearing our son Matt is autistic.
First off, I am not a word smith like my husband. I can’t sit down at a computer and pluck words out of my brain and create art. Most of the time, when I am plucking words out of my brain it is for a shopping list. I am however a Mother and as such, I have something that needs to be said and dang it, I wouldn’t be typing this at Midnight if I didn’t need to get it out of my head.
“I’m so Sorry!” usually followed by a sad face is the response I get when I tell people that I have a child with Autism. Now I was raised as a non-confrontational person who spares people their feeling almost to a fault but I can’t continue to hear “I’m sorry.” I know people are uncomfortable when confronted by things they don’t understand and as a response they say they are sorry. I know that but that’s not what I want to hear. In fact, I would rather hear nothing at all. You have nothing to be sorry about.
My sons are perfect in my eyes. They make me smile and laugh daily, if not hourly, and there is not a single thing that I would change about either one of them. Not a single hair on their heads not a bit of their personalities and certainty not Matt’s Autism. Why you may ask? Because I think that Matt is perfect. My son will never tell me a lie. Everything is black and white to him. He will be a little quirky and maybe have a hard time making friends and girls will be out of the picture for a long time. They will be just too difficult to understand for him although I am sure they will be chasing him from early on. He will also find his gift. I don’t know what it is but be sure of this, when I find out, the world will know. So far we have learned his spatial awareness is incredible. I think he will be a gifted engineer.
So what about all of that would make someone be sorry?
I find myself telling complete strangers that I have an autistic son. Not to explain why he is having a meltdown in Sears but so they will see. In many cases Matt will be the first Autistic person someone will meet. How is that possible you ask considering there are 1 in 67 male boys with autism. Well, In most cases of autistic children the parents hide the diagnosis. They are afraid of the judgment the Autism label will bring. I’m not afraid of that, Matt isn’t defined by the word “Autistic”. He is, however, defining the word “Autistic” to you and I.
I promise I won’t go off on someone the next time they say “I’m so sorry” but I do ask for all the parents of children with special needs: the best thing you can ask is “How is he/she doing?”