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My son is a brave warrior in a silent world

This guest blog post is written by Michelle Sobel. Her 24 year-old son is on the autism spectrum. Michelle is from Melbourne, Australia, and has recently started her blog “Autismistic.” 

It's Friday. It's 2:45pm and I'm already waiting outside your day program. I call your teacher to let her know that I’m here. Exiting the car and making my way down the ramp, I'm already wondering how your day was...Were you happy? Did you eat well? Did you enjoy bowling? I wait around the corner in hopes not to impose on your teachers.

You come out with your coat on and your backpack strapped to your back looking tall and strong and you spot me standing there. We lock eyes and you pick up your step, marching straight into my open arms, planting a kiss on my chin. I tell you I love you and you are still attached to my chin. I laugh and tell your teacher that we will be like this for a while and then I take that backpack off because I know how much you don't like it on, and we walk up the ramp to the car embracing each other. You are looking at me as I navigate the way out for both of us and we are smiling. We don't let go of each other until we reach the car. I sing...you smile. I can sense that you're happy. I can see that you're happy.  I take your coat off and fasten your seat belt. We drive off heading towards home and your gentle fingers continually reach for  my neck from the back seat. Your fingers are warm and I tell you that I love you; that I'm proud of you; that we're going out to your grandmother's for dinner.  I check your face in the rear view mirror and you are relaxed and content, and I'm so happy that you had a good day.

This love affair has been in the making for the past twenty four and a half years; so humbling and touching and difficult and educational, yet there's a loathed third wheel in this affair. Its unwanted advances and presence continually pry into our lives at times, causing much havoc. Other times, it lies dormant waiting for an opportunity to strike, annoying and confusing us all.

Loving you is easy ... loving you is all consuming and looking after you and helping you is like breathing. It's effortless and I pray that I keep on breathing for a long time... shedding 46 kilos was my gift to you in the hope that I can stay to care for you and protect you; so I don't become a burden on the family and take the focus away from you. Loving you is easy. We have never spoken words to each other... I have spoken and you have listened... patiently... angrily ... laughing hysterically... crying...lovingly. I’m well-aware that you know more than you can share...I feel it. What a brave warrior you are living in your silent world unable to express your deepest thoughts, yet exhibiting your love and joy and pleasure so effortlessly. You sense who loves you and you gravitate lovingly towards them, and you sense those who are disinterested and you keep your distance. Smart boy.

No two days are alike and flexibility, patience, tolerance and understanding are part of our DNA. I often read people's testimonies that life is short and that we should live our life to the fullest. That we should treat everyday as if it's our last day. No one ever said "life is short, live your life to the fullest with autism/ intellectual impairment." The two can't quite be done because that third wheel has its grip around your neck so tightly. Your body is in chains just long enough to give you breathing space... moving space, but not quite enough space to "fly."

What does living your life to the fullest mean? Does it mean constant travel? Does it mean eating at hundreds of  restaurants and partying? Does it mean accumulating money or things? Without people to share your life with, without people to love, without people to love you, without friends to share, laugh and confide with, without food to warm your soul, without a safe place to rest your head, without clothes on your back you do not have a life. So with much gratitude, I have a life that's full and you my son, have a life that's adapted lovingly to your needs and it too is full. Even that third wheel has a life that's full, for we have made a pact to live together the best way we know how in sickness and in health, for better or worse, through the good times and the best times making each day count and happily, it's enough.

Loving you is easy. I'll be there again on Friday at 2:45.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.