Autism Saved My Son’s Life

I first met my son when he was 11. 

It was in a group session I had been invited to as a teacher because I would be getting the kids the following year. 

It was a chance to meet everyone and for the group to get to know me.

I was immediately drawn to one student because he certainly had a lot to say! 

I quickly learned that he was in foster care and that he had a twin brother who was also in group with us. 

One talked, one did not. 

It wasn’t that the one brother couldn’t speak, by the look on his face it was clearly that he didn’t want their life history to be known among his peers. 

The other brother had different ideas…

Fast forward to fall and the new school year began. 

The happy, silly dark haired boy named Chris easily assimilated himself into his new classroom. He was a frequent flyer at my desk and always wanted to talk and loved adult attention. 

He would rock back and forth from side to side the more excited he got (stimming), and he often had to be bribed to get to his seat and work. 

Blond haired Daniel was in my class the following hour and couldn’t be more different. 

He was always self-conscious about being in the resource room and fought hard not to have to speak to anyone in the room, including myself. 

Both kids were easy to have in class, although my dark haired by was by far more exhausting!

Life went on.  

Another year went by and another year started and the boys stayed on my caseload and in my class. 

In February the school was notified that the boys would be leaving.  They would be leaving their current foster home and moving two hours away to be with an aunt and uncle and their children. 

I felt terrible about them leaving and wished them the best of luck.  

My own son was in the same grade and had befriended the boys.  I quickly told them to make sure they stayed in contact with Patrick and to let us know if they needed anything.

Six weeks later my son got a message from Chris stating that he had been moved to a shelter and wanted me to know where he was.

I quickly got more information and my husband and I went to visit him. 

We learned that his aunt and uncle were very young and lived in a trailer with only 2 bedrooms and that they had 3 young kids of their own and 3 young foster kids. 

They put up a divider in the bedroom, and the 6 littles stayed on one side, and Chris and Daniel stayed on the other side. 

Life was not what they imagined and the boys were expected to watch the younger kids and help with cooking. 

One night Chris was cooking on a hot pot and accidently started a small fire that destroyed the cupboard above it. 

Later that night Chris got up to use the restroom and slipped on ice that had formed on the floor due to cold temps and a leaking pipe.  He waited until the morning and contacted his social worker who went and picked him up. 

Chris encouraged Daniel to come with him but Daniel decided to stay.  Daniel knew how to stay silent and to keep out of the way which seemed to make life easier for him.

My family began picking up Chris for weekend visits and that led to up taking him in full time as a foster child. 

With my help, my husband and kids learned a bit about ASD kids and soon learned to love his quirkiness, stimming and non-stop talking.

We didn’t hear much about Daniel, other than DHS has separated the two so that one could get adopted without the other. 

Eventually we learned that Daniel had been adopted.  His adoptive mother was able to find us and we quickly set up visits between the boys.  His new family was wonderful and really supportive. 

We ended up adopting Chris and he and Daniel continued with visits.  It warmed my heart that both boys ended up in loving homes and I thought everything was perfect.

When the boys were 17, I got a phone call from Daniels parents. 

Daniel had run away and they had no idea why.  They located him at his biological father’s house.  He decided that is where he wanted to be and the courts said because he was 17, he could choose where he wanted to live. 

His adoptive parents were devastated.

Chris and Daniel have not had contact with one another in two years. 

I keep thinking about why Daniel left and it keeps occurring to me that he couldn’t get past the things that had happened to him in his childhood. 

The trauma had affected him in a different way that it had affected Chris. 

Daniel had a harder time connecting to people and living up to any expectations was just too hard for him.  I often wondered why that was. 

I thought about Chris and his mild autism and how he talked so much, stimmed so much and yet was always happy. 

I thought about Daniel, and his quiet, sometimes brooding personality and it hit me. 

The autistic traits that Chris had made it easier to get through his early life.  He soothed himself by stimming, and was able to go to school and focus on what was right in front of him. 

He had the ability to sit right in the present and not dwell on the past of the future. 

And then I knew…autism saved my son’s life.

Written by, Anonymous

I am a special education teacher, mother, adoptive mother and mother of a teenager on the spectrum.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!


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