My son and I were coming home last week from taking my daughter, his sister, to tumbling. He became quiet as he sat across from me in the front seat and it was like Jesus whispered to me, “Ask him if everything is ok,” and so I did.
I couldn’t have braced myself for what was to come next. Kindly, I looked his way and asked, “Ethan is everything ok, son?” He looked at me and replied very maturely, “Mom, puberty and autism are really hard.” Oh Wow, one of these conversations. I inquired hoping to have him open up more. I asked, “I know it must be buddy. What is going on to make you feel this way?” He looked at me and replied, “Changing classes and going back and forth makes me really nervous.” Well, chiming in with a quick solution like I would for my “social butterfly” daughter, I said confidently, “Well, maybe one of your friends can go with you as you move from class to class.” I truly wasn’t prepared for what I would hear next (Gosh, parents, are we ever?)
He continued with, “Mom, I don’t have any friends,”….ok, it was one of those stab-me-in-the-heart-with-a-knife moment as tears just poured from both my eyes…my only saving grace was that I was able to hide some of these tears behind my dark sunglasses. I tried to stay strong as he watched me cry and then said, “Mom it is true, I don’t.”
By this time, I had to grab my handkerchief that sits by my driver side and now it was obvious that I was crying and crying hard, but I had to wipe my eyes because I could no longer see the road ahead. I didn’t know what to say…but, I did know how to listen and feel his pain…he is my son.
“Just like Jesus. We may feel like He doesn’t know what to say to us when we hurt, but Jesus is the best listener and He can comfort us when no one else can.”
The only thing that came out of my mouth was, “Ethan, if it helps any, I will always be your friend.” He looked my way and his complete demeanor changed as he asked, “Really, you will?” I tried smiling as I said, “Yes, I promise you that I will always be your friend and you can come to me with anything. And, I love you so much.”
For whatever reason, Jesus refrained him from asking me why I was crying because I guess he knew I hurt for him.
I am not writing this to get pity for my son, but I wanting to share what many children with autism feel each and every day…..
As a Mom, I want you to know that being a friend to a child with autism, no matter what their age, is not about asking them over to play or go to a ballgame with you- it is simply about acknowledging them and saying their name when you pass them in the hall or see them in the grocery store or on the school bus. Don’t simply ignore them because they have feelings too even though they may hide them better than you or me. When these simple little things happen, they feel like they have many friends.
My son is not very social and that is fine. He loves having his alone time on the trampoline or reading his dictionary (yes, very odd to most of us), but I wouldn’t have it any other way because through this child, God is teaching me so much humility!
Let’s be a Champion for Children with Autism…won’t you like my new page – Marvel in your Autistic Eyes on Facebook so we can share more stories about these amazing lives?
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain,”…Isaiah 53:3