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The Privilege of Raising an Autistic Son

Courtesy of Sharon Fuentes

It is 3:45 a.m., and I wake up because I have that feeling that someone is watching me. I open one eye and there in front of me is Jay, tears quietly sliding down his cheeks.

I sit up, suddenly wide awake. “What’s wrong?” I say, and open up my covers to let him in. He curls his not-so-little body around mine and buries his head into my side. “I had a bad dream,” he sniffs. The fact that my boy has reached out to me and tells me what the problem is, expressing it in words and not just screams of anger, is huge.

I encourage him to tell me what the dream was about. My boy wipes his eyes, then retells his dream in the vivid, dramatic way that only he can. It takes all my will power not to smile. You see, I am an autism mom, and I know all too well how big a deal it is that I can have a conversation like this.

“We became gazillionaires, Mom,” Jay says. “We bought a huge house and each member of our family had their own floor with their own butlers and cooks. It was great at first, but then it wasn’t. We no longer saw one another. You did not tuck me in at night or drive me to school or help me with my homework. Promise me you will never play the lotto.”

I say nothing because there is a lump in my throat. I am overwhelmed with love for this boy who is filled with empathy and compassion. He loves with every ounce of his being. How did I get so lucky?

By Sharon Fuentes, mom of Jay, 12, and Grace, 9