Before I Understood My Son’s Autism

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“I used to think a lot of things about my son’s autism.

Back before I really understood.

Back when it was just a word on a piece of paper slid across the table to us. Slow like. As if the contents held the secrets to our future.

I thought it was something that was given to him. Placed upon his 3-year-old shoulders, weighing him down.

I thought it was something we could fix. Or change.

I thought there was a part of him that was not autistic. One we just had to find.

I was wrong about so many things. I’m going to say it again for the cheap seats in the back.

I was wrong.

I didn’t understand.

I didn’t know.

I was scared.

And worried.



So many things.

As he grew into himself, and I grew into autism, I opened my eyes and ears and heart and learned to see and listen and feel.

It was a painful evolution. One I am incredibly thankful for now.

I’ll tell you a few more things, too.

I used to worry my son was lonely. And I wondered if he was happy.

Because I didn’t know. And at my core as a mom, all I have ever wanted and ever will want, is for my beautiful, smart, funny, amazing boy to be loved and treasured and happy just as he is.

He is ten years old now.

His life is not complex or full of birthday party invites or sporting events.

It’s simpler. It’s his own.

Today, he watched his old black and white train movies. He went for a walk with our family. He ate breakfast and lunch. He studied his books and magazines and lined up his DVD’s. He took a nap.

And I can say with certainty he is happy. He is actually probably the happiest person I know.

And lonely? Not a chance.

He has his characters in his shows. His brothers. Neighborhood kids who shout his name when he is walking. Some who even take him into their houses for paper. And a mom and dad who absolutely adore him.

I don’t worry so much anymore. Now that I understand.

It just took me some time to get here.

I’m thankful he was patient with me.”

Two brothers hug each other while taking an outside stroll
Courtesy of KT Swenson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by KT Swenson of Finding Cooper’s Voice. You can follow Finding Cooper’s Voice on Instagram. Submit your own story here and sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from KT here: 

‘He looked right at me. ‘Mama, do you hear how happy he is?’ He couldn’t hear the TV over your happy sounds, but he didn’t care.’: Mom to son with autism shares sweet sibling moment

‘I whipped around fast. ‘You leave him ALONE.’ He covered his ears, flapping his arms. The man snickered under his breath.’: 70-year-old woman thanks special needs mom for opening her eyes to autism, ‘You taught me patience and kindness’

‘No shoes, I ran through the security gate, tripping as I searched for the family. ‘You did an amazing job, dude.’ It was like we’d known each other for years.’: Mom to son with autism urges ‘look for your people’

‘I looked down with tears in my eyes as I absorbed my son’s kicks. Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder. ‘How can I help?’: Special needs mom details ‘unbelievable’ act of kindness

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