‘You must be sad you will never have a normal life.’ This person had pity for my son. It felt like a shot fired and received.’: Mom to son with autism urges ‘there is only joy and gratitude’

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“You must be sad… 

I’ve heard that phrase a few times over the past couple of weeks. 

‘You must be sad your son rides the shorter bus.’ 

‘You must be sad he’s not in the gen-ed room at school.’ 

And the zinger, the one that felt like a shot was fired and received, ‘You must be sad you will never have a normal life.’ 

These statements don’t necessarily come from a place of hate or anger. 

They come from a place of misunderstanding. They simply don’t understand. 

I am unbelievably thankful there is a bus that is safe, secure, filled with children like mine, complete with loving aides, and a driver who can bring my son to school. There is no sadness. There is only joy. And gratitude. 

I am overjoyed that my son is in a class that works for him. That challenges him. That motivates him. That demands more from him. I’m thankful. I’m humbled. I’m hopeful. 

And a normal life. That one shocked me. It snuck in my comments, buried amongst thousands. This person had pity for my son. Pity for our situation. They saw him and saw sadness. 

People fear differences. Each and every one of us sees it in the world today. 

My son is happy, healthy, growing, learning to communicate, in 4th grade, and thriving. 

Yes. Our life looks different. It has challenges that most don’t understand. But overshadowing those is the joy that most will never understand either. With the hard comes good. 

Last night I came home to a little boy waiting for me on the porch. The other two were playing and busy with friends and bikes. Not Cooper. He was waiting for me. 

He looked at me like he hadn’t seen me in years. In reality, it was just 3 hours. We danced for a second to the music in his head before he stopped, covered his mouth, and gasped at the moon in the sky. He loves the moon. 

We walked in hand in hand. I dressed him for bed. I kissed his cheeks, and he rubbed the skin on my arm noticing a blemish. He quickly looked at me and said, ‘Ow,’ and then brought his lips to my arm for a sloppy kiss. 

He is loved. He is happy. He is innocent. The commenter went on to say it was sad that I, me, Kate, the mom, would never have a normal life. 

Look at the joy I get instead! 

See, it’s just different. Our buses are different. Our classrooms are different. Our lives are different. I like to describe it by saying we are just ‘more.’ 

More hard. More beauty. More sad. More joy. More worry. More complicated. More real. We are more. It’s not a bad place to be once you get used to it. 

Stick around. We will show you our world if you want to learn. Different is not bad. It’s just…more.” 

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’

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