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How Autism Inspires “Next Level” Parenting


The morning begins the way the night before ended: with tiny feet against my legs, as he does not cuddle, but likes to know you are there. Waking Ethan up is beautiful: He usually smiles and then, in a tiny voice you hear MeMa. I waited years for that word, and love it every time he says it. Words from him are precious.

The days don’t change much—school all day, home at night—because routine is everything.  This keeps outings to a minimum, and turns our home into a playground. (There is a trampoline in the living room.) 

He is the child that turns little things into daily blessings. Never could I have imagined that he would wordlessly add such a dimension to what I believed parenting to be, nor would I have it any other way. My husband calls it “next level” parenting, for it challenges every thought I had about raising kids. When he is happy, it is evident to everyone. If he’s hurt or sad, it’s equally as obvious. He loves with all he has, judging every situation with wisdom that is well beyond his years. If you looked at him, you would know something was different, but it would take you a bit to understand exactly what.

This is Ethan, and this is what autism looks like. 

By Rebecca James, mom of Bria, 4, and Ethan, 3