How Autism Looks

Sometimes when I am telling someone about Colin, my 13-year-old son who is on the autism spectrum, I will get this response:  “But he doesn’t look autistic!”  I know the well-meaning friend means to comfort me in some way by saying this.  Or maybe the well-meaning friend is just surprised because Colin seemed “normal” to them.  I’m not sure, but I haven’t figured out the polite answer yet.

He is an honor student.
He is the jazz band pianist.
He plays the drums in our worship band.
He will be on the track team starting Monday.
I’ve always tried to be very up front with people about Colin because — in all fairness to them and to Colin — I want them to know what to expect.  Colin has a hard time with eye contact. (So do I.)  Colin will be able to talk to you for a few moments before he will bolt away.  Conversation is difficult for him.  The words and ideas get mixed up and he has to untangle them.  It’s a lot of work for him.
People give up trying to engage him in conversation.
No one calls him.
He doesn’t call anyone.
He spends most of his free time hanging out with his parents.
He spends a lot of time talking to himself.  Out loud.
There’s beauty and heartache to autism.  My son sees the world differently than I do.  My son worries about things he does not need to worry about.  My son plays the piano more beautifully than anyone I know.  My son  remembers things other people would forget in an instant.  My son is more polite than the average 13-year-old because he knows he has to be.
Would I change him if I could?  I don’t know.  I love him so.  I would like it to be less hard for him that’s for sure.
Next Monday is World Autism Awareness Day.  Will you do me a favor and click on this link?  It’s an article from kidshealth.org written for teens about other teens with autism.  I find is so well written and so helpful.  There’s a kid version as well on the site.  
The more we know how to include people who fall on the spectrum, the more normal everyone will look.

TGRJ:  Sat. and today 1.5 miles NO STOPPING!  Wind was nasty ugly today.

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