Dear Jack… You Have Autism.

Posted by on Jul 15, 2013 | 7 comments

Dear Jack… You Have Autism.

Dear Jack,

There is something your Daddy and I have wanted to tell you for a long time. Something that we weren’t sure how to bring up, or when. Something that has the potential to change the way you live your life.

Jack, you have autism.

You are my firstborn son, my love, my everything. I have adored you since long before I knew you. I waited to meet you my entire life, and when I met your Daddy, he was just as excited. We knew from the very first time we saw you on the ultrasound monitor that your name would be Jack. We didn’t even think twice, we just knew immediately, right there and then. Jack.

You know that you came into this world a bit early, earlier than your brothers. I spent a long time in the hospital waiting for you, waiting for the day it would be ok for you to come earthside. You were early, but very healthy. Daddy and I held you and couldn’t believe how beautiful you were. You are. Perfect little nose, perfect blonde hair, perfect little fingers and toes.

Perfect.

You came home and made us a family. You are the first, the oldest. Your three younger brothers love you, learn from you, and adore you.

We have known you have autism since you were three years old. Actually, that’s when the doctors told us officially. We’ve known you were special since before you turned two. You couldn’t speak, but you knew things. You were incredibly smart. I have no doubt you understood everything.

Knowing you have autism didn’t really change a lot for us. If anything, it made everything easier. You were able to get the support you needed, and some amazing people came into our lives because of it. Miss Amanda helped you learn how to talk and play. Aki and Jane helped you learn how to climb and swing and do small puzzles. Miss Amelia, Miss Deborah, Miss Shelby and Miss Jesse gently guided you into school, with lots of love and joy for learning. And Miss Shirin, who made sure that someone was always at your side (Eric, Charlie, Geoff, and Christine), teaching you how to cope when things get to be too much, how to focus your attention when necessary, how to be safe, and how to explore and enjoy the world around you with freedom.

They all gave you what every child wants and needs. Freedom.

When we moved to Canada, you started “real” school. Kindergarten. Grade One. Grade Two. This fall you’ll be going into Grade Three, which I can barely believe. Not only are you thriving educationally, you’re speaking French while you do it. Even more amazing people have guided you to this point: Mme Riel, Mme MacIntyre, Mme Dowes, and Mme Okeyere have taught you as they taught every other child in their classes, and gave you every respect and inspiration you deserve. Mr. Yaniv and Mr. Perk have guided you from behind the scenes, putting you on the right path and making certain everyone charged with your care is trained properly and know how to support you in the best way possible. And Mme W in Kindergarten, and Mme S ever since, have been by your side every single day.

Because of this team of professionals, this group of people who both want you to succeed and love you dearly, you are the boy who stands before me today. Jacktor The Tractor. JackJack. Jack.

A child who once could not speak at all, who now can not only speak English on a high school level, but can speak French as well.

A child who had such low upper body tone as a toddler that he could barely climb a play structure, who has now mastered not only the monkey bars, but also taught himself how to ride a bicycle (without training wheels).

A child who had no concept of how to play with his toys or colour or use his imagination, yet has now filled my home with extensive drawings of whatever the popular subject is this week, expansive and intricate art projects he’s built, and fantastic books he’s written about wild adventures and alternate universes.

Autism is not a bad thing, it’s just a thing.

Autism is why you only had four words when most other kids your age were chatting away. Autism is the reason you don’t like fireworks, or big crowds of people. Autism is why you get to walk around in the halls at school when being in class just gets to be too much.

It’s why you run through the house in loops, and don’t always listen when someone is talking to you. It’s why I ask you to look into my eyes, so I know for sure that you’re hearing me. It’s why the loud things and the buzzing things and the light things and the random things make you stressed a lot more than other people.

Autism is why you always went to special gyms and preschools and your brothers didn’t. It’s why we went into Vancouver so many times to see the doctors at the place with all of the toys, even though you weren’t sure exactly why we were there.

But Jack, there is something incredibly important for you to understand about all of this. Autism is the reason for a lot of stress in your life, but it is also responsible for you being “you.”

Autism is the reason you could write your name and build intricate structures at a very young age. Autism is the reason you were able to learn how to read in English, how to ride a bike, how to tie your own shoes, and any number of other tasks you took it upon yourself to learn. To teach yourself.

Autism is why you see things a little bit differently than your brothers. And your friends. And most people, for that matter. People look at things and see them for what they are on the surface, you want to know what’s inside. You yearn to dissect and examine everything that interests you, and a whole lot of things interest you.

It’s the reason your younger brothers can read, write, do math, name all of the planets and discuss weather anomalies and scientific principles far beyond their years. Because you have taught them. Because you are curious and thirst for knowledge, and want to share it.

Because you have autism.

And that’s why we’ve waited. We don’t want you to change anything. Not the way you live, the way you think, the way you see the world. Nothing has changed for us, and nothing should change for you.

I know now you will want to know every single thing there is to know about autism, because that’s what you do. In your investigations, you are bound to read some not-so-positive things about autism, about the autism spectrum. There are people out there who believe that autism comes from lots of different sources, that believe people with autism need to be “cured,” that want to eradicate autism completely.

You will make up your own mind about all of these things as you grow and experience life as a person with autism. Our job as your parents is to love and support you on your journey to adulthood, just like your brothers. We have given, and will continue to give you, every advantage we can to make it as stress-free as possible.

Sometimes, though, the stress with break through. You may get frustrated with other people, difficult situations, and even yourself. But I need you to understand the most important thing of all.

You are special. You are Jack. You are not autism.

Autism is not who you are, or what you are. Autism is just another part of you, like your thick, curly hair, your long legs, and your blue eyes. Autism did not determine your personality, and it cannot determine your limits. Only you can decide those things. You have the power to be whomever you want in this world, and whatever kind of person you’d like to be.

My wish for you is that you remain loving and curious. That you have the tools you need to cope when things get difficult, and not let the difficulties stop you. Please don’t ever stop learning.

Jack, I want you to show the world that you don’t live in spite of autism, or because of it. You are amazing because you are Jack.

With all of the love in the world,

Mama

autism is amazing

 

 

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  • enhoskins

    I just love this…..I will use it as framework when we decide to tell my son…thank you so much for sharing!

  • Wendy Hoard

    This is so beautiful. I just found your blog and I love it already. I look forward to reading more!

  • Anna

    What a beautiful letter. You and your family are amazing.

  • Leanne

    A touching letter and a beautiful message.

  • AndyMummy

    This letter and your letter are beautifully put. Thank you for sharing.
    If you don’t mind me asking, does your lovely Jack know he has support people or that he has autism? Jack and my little guy Fraser sound very similar, although no two on the spectrum ever come with the same strengths and challenges it seems. 🙂 Fraser will be entering Kindergarten in September and we are wrestling with “when to tell him” or if. You see, his little sister also has autism, so having BIs and therapists in their lives seems normal to both of them.
    I also love that you’re from Vancouver. So are we. Blessings to you and your family.

    • Hi! I’m so sorry I’m just answering here! Yes, Jack knows about his support team. He calls them his “helpers,” and now he knows that not all kids have them, and he has them because he has autism.
      How is Fraser doing in Kindergarten?
      We’ll have to have a Vancouver meet-up sometime! <3 Thank you for reading! <3

  • Pingback: Guess What? I Have Autism! | Autism is a Trip()

  • Melissa Lynn Benham

    Lovely letter! Such a great way to put it. I hope little Jack reads this someday. Thank you for sharing!