autism · Parenting · relationships · special needs

What Defines A Person?

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I have a young man, a beautiful, smart, creative, young man. He is the light of my life, the one who has taught me more than I ever learned in any academic setting.


Lessons From My Son

My son has taught me how to be a mama. He has taught me that no two kids are the same. Just because I thought I could parent him the way I taught children in my classrooms, I couldn’t. I also cannot parent my other three children the way I would have taught, nor can I teach any of them the way I taught in the classroom.

My son has taught me patience that goes beyond understanding. He has taught me that patience is not always about loving someone who is being difficult for a moment. Patience is about enduring the difficult times, holding oneself together in the moments that the stress causes crumbling.

My son has taught me to recognize, and respect, my limits. He has taught me that sometimes we have to walk away. No matter how important the cause, the battleground may be too unsettled to navigate at the time. Navigation can always happen later, but sometimes we must walk away. Recognizing, respecting your limits, walking away, saving the battleground navigation for later – always a great lesson to learn!

My son has taught me that lifelong learning can happen in more than a sterile, classroom environment. Being a lifelong learner can happen at your dining table, it can happen driving down the road, and it can happen in the moments of tears and frustration when it seems nothing good can come. David has taught me that a classroom is a good place to learn, but it may not be the best place, nor the best way for every person to learn.

My son has taught me to find success in the smallest moments. He has taught me that the moments most people find to be a typical part of a day are moments that we should rejoice over. Moments of laughter, oh how we rejoice about laughter. We rejoice about times when most parents would get frustrated (honestly, we sometimes get frustrated about those times, as well).

My son has taught me that love surpasses difficulty. Love powers through the times when your physical pain is intense, but your emotional pain is crippling. When it is time to make a tough love decision, no matter how angry or frustrated you are, your heart breaks. The love is tough for you, probably more so than the person you love. It’s tough love for a reason.

More than all of those things, my beautiful, smart, creative son has taught me nothing used to describe a person (diagnoses, eligibility criteria for an academic setting, etc) can truly define who that person is. It can define that someone may need more help in certain situations, but it will never define the person.

Love, compassion, and special gifts from God are what truly defines a person.

Thank you, my beautiful son, for teaching me that lesson!

2 thoughts on “What Defines A Person?

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been a mix of emotions since we realized my daughter has HFA. Initially, I just tried stonewalling passed my emotions to focus on being the mom she needs. Needless to say that didn’t work out too well. It was so hard to see that she has autism, but autism doesn’t have her. We’re still at the beginning stages of it all, but your blog and a few other resources re-fuel my hope. Thank you.

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