Magazine article The Exceptional Parent


Magazine article The Exceptional Parent


Article excerpt

I no longer regret the more traditional trappings of the life I'd envisioned for my son. Over the past few years I've begun to see that needing those traditional milestones to achieve happiness is my disability, not his.

He nearly stumbled over the stroller, the elderly man with the kind eyes who apologized, then bent down to speak to my son Justin.

"Hi there buddy!" he said exuberantly, then put up his hand for a high-five.

Justin simply stared at the proffered hand, then glanced away.

The man looked up at me quizzically, and I responded with, "He doesn't talk; he has severe autism," and as I watched, his face crumpled in dismay.

"I'm so sorry" he said.

"That's a tragedy. God bless you." He straightened up and walked away.

And as I watched him stroll to the canned goods section the words flowed into my mind, if not my mouth: "My son is not a tragedy."

My son is not a tragedy.

Are there aspects of my child's disability that I find tragic? Yes, there are. I will always lament the fact that he will be on this earth for half his life without his parents to care for him, nurture him, love him. Even though I am aware that he may have competent caregivers for those decades, I still find it heartbreaking to think he might miss us, might wonder why we no longer visit him. I worry his caretakers might miss medical issues, might not feed him well.

I worry they won't love him.

I am confident these concerns will follow me to my grave. …

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