To my beautiful, wonderful, autistic son. When you were born I dreamt of the person you’d one day become. Selfishly, I projected all the things I considered to be great in the world onto you. I filled my heart with hopes of how I thought you’d grow and what you’d like or dislike. Without even realizing it, I mapped out your life for you.
I never dreamed of speech delays, communication challenges, or an autism diagnosis. But here we are, and here you are–far better a child than I ever could have imagined. To me, you are absolutely perfect. Within the walls of our home and our family, you are one hundred percent accepted just as you are.
However, I must warn you that the world extends far beyond our family and the life you’ve lived so far. There’s a reason World Autism Awareness Day exists. That there are days and months dedicated to spreading the message of acceptance. Because despite the progress that has been made, you may never be accepted everywhere you go.
At some point in your life, you will meet people who simply do not like you for who you are. Not because you are autistic, but because you are human. Remember that we all have that experience. There are so many different types of people in the world with a wide array of life experiences. Not all of them will like you, and you won’t like all of them.
The world is filled with great people who have compassionate hearts and open minds, but there are also a few people who see only the negative. People who feel unhappy or scared for whatever reason and they project that onto others. Some people will have a wall up because of race, gender, class, and maybe even autism. Do your best to hold compassion in your heart for them while knowing their problem doesn’t lie with you but within them.
For as long as I am living, I will celebrate this day. I’ll share my own journey with autism acceptance, and proudly talk about all the lessons you’ve taught me. History has shown us that as time goes on more and more people will accept and embrace neurodiversity, but I know the message will never resonate with everyone because that’s the way life is.
Always remember your people are out there, the ones who see you for how wonderful you are and the good you bring to the world. I hope you build quality relationships with them without feeling any need to change yourself to make others more comfortable. While celebrating autism acceptance, don’t place your self-acceptance in the hands of others. Allow yourself to live the beautiful and full life you deserve. A life defined by you, and no one else.