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How the World Reacts to My Autistic Son

How the World Reacts to My Autistic Son

When we are out in public, my biggest worries are not about how my autistic son will act. Instead I worry about how the world will react.

I don’t worry about his mannerisms. Or his uniqueness. Because I know exactly who he is and how he is going to behave. And that he is learning and growing.
I know he will flap his arms in pure joy.
I know he will run. And sit. And maybe feel the cool of the cement with his cheek.
I know he will squeal. And hum. And laugh.
I know he will wave to strangers who rarely wave back.
I know if there is music playing he will dance.
I know if he has to wait for too long he will get frustrated. He may even stomp his feet and hit his own head.
I know his words will come out as jumble of sounds that don’t make sense. But they do to him.

I know that social norms make absolutely no sense to him. Like how you aren’t supposed to face backwards on an elevator or sit down in the checkout line at Target. Or take your shirt off if it gets wet.

I know he will do all of these things because he is Cooper. He is 13 and he is autistic. And he is learning to navigate this world. A world that he doesn’t understand quite yet.

And it is my job as his mom, to give him the space to do so. I don’t worry about him so much anymore.

What I do worry about though is everyone else.

I think it’s important for the world to know that.

That there is a mom, with four little kids, who is 40 and lives in Minnesota, and she worries before leaving the house and at 4 am and when she puts him on the bus, that people will be mean to her oldest son.

You. A man. A woman. A grandparent. A teen.

Cruel to her son who is the most precious soul. The one who loves trains and dancing and when the wind blows through his hair.

He loves holding hands and the sound metal makes when his hand taps on it.

This mother, she worries you will laugh at him. And point. And snicker. And mock.

Or worse. Yell at him. Scold him. Belittle him.

She tries not too. She tries to remember that the world is mostly good. Kind. Patient.

She tries to be brave and invincible but most days she wants to keep that precious boy home where he is safe and loved.

But something inside her reminds her daily that her son deserves to know the world. And the world deserves to know him.

Please people. Those whom I’ve never met. And those who do not know autism.

Give us grace. Give us kindness. Give us patience and room to grow.

And know that we are doing our absolute best.

He is doing his best.

Feel free to say hi if you see us practicing being in the world. Because we practice all the time.

At water parks and grocery stores and hockey rinks.

We love people. We love smiles too. And waves. And kind eyes.

We went to a restaurant a few days ago. This was his third time ever. He did his best until it was too much. And that was enough.

‘I’m so scared sometimes Jamie. What if someone hurts him. Or gets mad at him. What if I can’t protect him?’ — my worries at 4 am.
Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook.

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