If I could talk to my son
If I could talk to my son, what would he say? I often ask myself this question. I like to think that he would ask the same questions that a typically developed 8 year old would ask. Why is the sky blue. Why is dads hair grey. I think he would ask all of the questions that he hasn’t been able to ask all of his life but desperately wants answered. Questions locked up into his brain unable to be posed because he cannot speak. Why does mommy cry, why dad hardly ever smiles. Why does tickling make him laugh, why his big brother gets upset when his train set gets knocked over and why nobody understands when he is in pain. Years of questions that will never be answered. One of the toughest things about being an Autism parent is the knowing of whats lost. The trials of growing out of childhood and the experiences and memories that a come with it are lost to him and to us. The normal things that children do my son simply can’t. Trips to the beach, youth soccer, going to Home Depot with Dad or to the grocery store with Mom. When I was a kid I would go deer hunting with my Dad and camp out in the woods. We would take long trips in the family station wagon across the country. I always had questions, my dad always answered. But my son cannot ask these questions because he has no voice. All of these memories are lost to him and his parents. It hits me hard every day. I think if he could speak and ask just one question he would ask me this, Why? Why is he Autistic? Why is the world that is full of so much, so closed to him. In that moment, after years of yearning for a question from him, his broken heart-ed dad would have no answer.
I suppose that there would be many other questions along those lines but I try very hard not to think in those terms. I like to think of the conversations I had with my father in my formative years. How do airplanes fly or boats float. Endless questions about everything under the sun and the night stars. Why the sun goes down and why the stars twinkle. Why does the rain fall, why does the wind blow. Why doesn’t it snow in Florida. Questions that he cannot ask and will never be answered. Every day I am constantly reminded of just how limited his life is and most likely will always be. All the pictures that my friends post to Facebook of their kids experiences and accomplishments. Family vacations and cruises and baseball games. He has no understanding of this or most other things that we take for granted. I guess in some small way that is a blessing. I know that if he has no knowledge of something he can’t really miss it..
But his Mother and Father do know what he is missing and the pain is often unbearable.
Robert Smith is a Husband and Father of four boys, Three who are Autistic