A long overdue letter to my son with autism

By Kathy Hooven | September 11, 2018

This blog post was written by Kathy Hooven, mother to a son with autism. You can read more about Kathy and her family on her blog, "The AWEnesty of Autism." You can also follow her on Facebook.


Dear Ryan,

This letter has been a long time coming. It is way overdue. And even though you may not think it's necessary and it's filled with Mommy's typical "gibberish" you find so annoying, I needed to write it. For you. For me.

Although I may fill this page with too many words that will make your "head hurt", there are only six words that you need to tuck into a file in your brain where your heart can always retrieve them:

I am sorry.

I love you.

I am sorry for all the times I got it wrong. There were so many, many times.

The times I tried to force eye contact by gently turning your head and saying "Look at Mommy". The times I insisted you wear clothes that you hated for family photos, special occasions, etc because I thought you were being "stubborn". The times I tried so hard to help you conform, to help you be like "the rest of the kids" when it was me wanting to be like "the rest of the moms".

I am sorry. 

We are very different, you and me, and that is not a bad thing at all, it just means what works for me may not work for you and it took a long time for mommy to figure that out. In fact, some days I still get it wrong. I am sorry for the times that I get it wrong, for the times that I get you wrong.

I am sorry for the times I pushed too hard, too far. For the times I pushed you before you were ready, before it was your time. Yes, watching you struggle to keep up with your peers was hard, so sometimes I pushed you as much for you as I did for me. I am sorry.

I am sorry for the times I didn't push enough. The times I thought it would be too hard for you so I let you slide. The world won't let you slide so by making excuses, by letting it go, I did you a disservice.

I am sorry for the times I thought I got it right. The times I thought I understood your overloaded sensory system and tried to help but only made things worse. The times I thought you preferred to be alone and believed that your loneliness was somehow different than those without autism. The times I thought I finally got it, but, still had so much to learn.

I am sorry for the times I lost my patience, yelled, swore and cried when I could not reach you. I know you were trying to let me in, but didn't know how. I am sorry that I tried to break down the door when you were working so hard on the other side to gently open it.

I am sorry.

It may be difficult for you to understand, but, through all my mistakes, through all my successes, through all the highs and lows, I did it all because I love you.

I love you for working so hard and never giving up.

I love you for never judging those who judge you.

I love you for always, without fail, being YOU.

I love you for helping me see the way you view the world and for not giving up on me for my lack of understanding.

I love you for loving me in your perfectly beautiful way. No one will ever love me like you.

I love you for forgiving me even when I didn't deserve your forgiveness.

I love you for accepting me just as I am, flawed, silly, confusing and "horribly annoying".

I love you for so many reasons Ryan, but, the one that matters most to me, the one that will always supercede the rest, I love you for letting me love you.

Just six words:

I am sorry.

I love you.


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