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Tonight I took my 15-year old son, one of my non-autistic kids, to the local fishing pier on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. There was a nice breeze out on the water, making it the type of comfortable evening we rarely see in South Louisiana during the summer months. A night like this brings people out, and the pier drew strollers as well as fisherfolk. One gentleman and his son caught my eye. The boy was about 10-years old, and was obviously autistic. He displayed the typical stimming behavior I’ve come to recognize, and his speech was relatively undeveloped for a young man of his age. But his father did not seem self-conscious in the least; he was just enjoying some well-spent time with his son on a beautiful evening.
Before the birth of my youngest child (the one on the spectrum) I would have focused on an autistic child and felt sorrow for the parents without bothering to notice that the parents neither needed nor wanted pity. Now I know better.
Having an autistic child is a gift. Every day I get to celebrate progress that I took for granted with my older kids. The attention my son requires keeps him in the forefront of my consciousness every waking moment. He has made me a better parent to all of my children.