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“I Got My First Real Hug When He Was 5”


Luca and I were sitting on the couch. I was exhausted. Luca had been up since 4 a.m. and it was a morning full of picking up messes, pulling him off furniture, calming him down, and searching for ways to communicate.

I sat there watching him. He started his vocal stimming, reciting lines from his favorite TV show. He smiled, looked off in the distance, and laughed. So full of light and joy. 

I kept watching him laugh and talk and giggle and talk more. As it often goes on a day like today, I didn’t have the energy to tell him to stop. Whatever he was thinking about, he found hilarious—the kind of funny that makes you laugh so hard you can’t breathe, that makes your tummy hurt. Moments like this are bittersweet. Here was my son, fulfilled with such happiness, and there I sat, not in any way part of the delight he was experiencing.

And then, almost like he knew what I was thinking, he turned and looked at me. Staring right into my eyes, he smiled, sighed and put his head on my shoulder.  And then, with both arms, he hugged me. Five years old, and it was the first true hug he had ever given me.

I don’t know that I could ever say that I’m thankful for autism. But I’m thankful for moments like this, moments that teach me that communication does not have to be spoken, that love is beyond words.

By Crissy Schiro, Mom of Aymon, 12, Sophia, 10, Matteo, 9, Luca, 8, Brady, Ella, 5, and Ava, 1