Dear Son, I don’t know if you will ever be able to read this. I don’t know that one day you won’t be able to read books of all kinds and share your thoughts with me. You are only three years old and are mostly non-verbal. You are autistic – which means you are affected by a neurological condition that impacts communication and processing. At this point, much of your behavior is influenced by autism. But here’s the thing. Every human soul enters this world with a personality that is unique. And, although you certainly will change between infancy and adulthood, the part of you that is you is apparent from the start. Yes, autism is an inseparable part of who you are. But it isn’t all of you, baby. Most children are loved by their parents. That is the birthright of every human being. But not every child is liked by her parents. Not every parent is grateful for his son. So, to the person you are right now and will always be – regardless of what you are able to do in the future – I want to tell you something. I like the heck out of you, little man. You have a gentle soul. That was evident from the day you were born. You rarely cried. And you spent most of your time smiling at the world. You still do that. You have the ability to erase the worst kind of day with your smiles, your hugs, and your kisses. You have a great sense of humor. No, you don’t yet understand plays on words. But you have a sense of silliness and playfulness that disarms people who would otherwise be hesitant to interact with someone who has special-needs. You laugh often, and that twinkle in your eyes charms us all. I pray that it remains and this world does not temper it. You are brave. Some might wonder how a three-year old can be courageous. But, if they knew what kind of sensations are assaulting and overwhelming you every day, they would understand. The world is louder, brighter, scratchier, smellier, scarier, and much more confusing to you. But you go at it anyway. You complain when you need to. You tolerate it when you have to. You jump in and dance when the spirit moves you. Yes, you are brave. And, for the challenges you are facing, that trait will serve you well. There are some who might think I would be ashamed to have a child who is different. There are some who might think they need to express sympathy. But I’m not, and they don’t. I am so very proud and, yes, grateful, to be your mother. I love to show you off. I love even more when people get to see what I see in you. You, my sweet boy, are beautiful. Just as you are. And whomever you grow to be. Love, Mama
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