The moment when my son with autism shined and found his gift

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.


Once upon a time there was an anxious, hesitant, insecure little boy. He lived in a world that was loud, unpredictable and at times, terrifying. This little boy shared his overwhelming world with an older brother who was confident, funny and loved by all. The little boy also shared his sensory loaded world with a little sister who was full of life, happy, and whose effervescent spirit could make the grumpiest troll smile. The little boy was fearful of trying new things so he often sat on the sidelines, the bleachers, the audience and on really cold, windy, sunny, buggy days, in the van while his brother and sister received trophies, medals, awards, ribbons, accolades and applause.

The little boy tried to follow in his big brothers footsteps, but his brother's stride was too different, his cleats too big. The grass in the outfield was too tickly, the dirt in the infield was too...well, dirty and the bugs everywhere were too deadly. He was NOT his brother.

The little boy NEVER wanted to follow in his sister's footsteps because she wore pink princess heels and leotards. She danced and talked...a lot...and she was "the most ridiculous person he has ever known". No, the little boy most certainly was NOT his sister. The little boy was not either one of THEM, but he wasn't quite sure WHO he was.

One day, the little boy discovered a gift. A gift that had been inside him since the day he was born. A beautiful gift that neither his confident, athletic brother, nor his sun shiny, "ridiculous" sister ever opened. This was a gift that was the little boy's alone. And once the little boy opened his gift and shared it, well, that little boy stood taller, smiled brighter and feared just a little less. The little boy did not need to be his brother. He did not want to be his sister. The little boy knew he was exceptional and he knew that music made him…him.

The little boy felt and expressed the music in a way that only those who receive and open the gift can. The little boy became confident enough to share his gift at a piano recital. As the other children in the recital "played" the music, the little boy "felt" the his fingers, in his head and in his soul. The world was no longer quite as loud. The world was no longer quite as chaotic and scary. Instead, the world was organized and filled with notes, chords and melodies. The sheet music did not change. The keys on the piano did not change. A C note was always as C note. Music was predictable. The world, in that moment, was predictable and the little boy's fingers as they glided effortlessly across the piano keys were in control. Control...something that the little boy so often required, but rarely possessed.

While the sound of the little boy's gift filled the room, his athletic brother and chatty sister sat back in silence mesmerized by the transformation of their often edgy, grumpy video game obsessed brother. The little boy finished his performance and he felt confident, "amazing" and proud. Not nearly as proud as the little boy's parents whose chests were puffed and whose cheeks were wet because this happy ending was far better than any fairy tale ever read to them as children. There was no knight in shining armor, no boy with magic beans, no genie in a lamp with three wishes because the little boy's parents did not need to be rescued, they did not need golden eggs or three magic wishes. They found their happily ever after when the little boy that they fretted over, advocated for and loved infinitely found his gift and agreed to share it....

Autism Speaks does not provide medical or legal advice or services. Rather, Autism Speaks provides general information about autism as a service to the community. The information provided on our website is not a recommendation, referral or endorsement of any resource, therapeutic method, or service provider and does not replace the advice of medical, legal or educational professionals. Autism Speaks has not validated and is not responsible for any information, events, or services provided by third parties.

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