The words “your child has autism” delivered a hard blow right to the pit of my stomach. The wind was knocked out of me. It carried away the hopes, wishes and dreams I had for my beautiful son, Jared. From that moment on, I knew our family would be taking a different journey. After the initial uncertainty and lots of tears, I realized he was still the beautiful child that had captured my heart. He opened my eyes to the unique qualities that make him one in a million, not one in 50.
Daily life can be a challenge. We’ve experienced many ups and downs during Jared’s 12 years. My friends and I joke that I should write a handbook containing tips on what to do when entering a restaurant that has balloons, or how to explain why the arcade game isn’t working. We have spent many minutes in public waiting for a meltdown to pass, accompanied by the stares of people who don’t understand.
Today, I have a child who loves camping and playing video games with his brothers. He’s accepted by his peers at school. Jared taught himself to read and is a computer whiz. His laugh is infectious. He can be quite funny (at least he thinks so).
Autism is a quite a ride. It has made us better people. We learn from Jared how to be compassionate, truthful and to celebrate the small things in life. I never knew a punch in the stomach could feel so good.
By Jeannie Mayes, mom of Jonathan, 14, Jared, 12, and Connor, 8