First, He is a Boy

He is anxiety and rigidity and obsessiveness, cloaked within the velvet robes of a diagnosis.

But first, he is a boy.

He is letters on a page—black and white sentences with a lot of punctuation, and big, big words.

Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Poor executive functioning.

Low muscle tone.

He is a walk around the neighborhood with a lot of complaining, and a visual schedule taped to the desk.

He is ice-cold soda in a tall plastic cup, and pizza from the same pizza place every Friday night.

Always the same. It has to be the same.

He is honest.

He is anxious.

He is tall.

But first, he is a boy.

He is appointments—so many appointments—and paperwork, and forms.

He is every insecurity you’ve ever had.

He is loneliness, and aching, and medicine in an orange vial.

A boy.

He is the special kid in your daughter’s class, the one who needs a one-to-one aide and leaves the room for speech therapy.

He’s on the playground, alone by the slide.

He is angry meltdowns, and social pragmatics, and cuticles bit to the quick.

He is friendless.

He is a boy.

He loves hotels.

He went to Italy.

He holds the umbrella way over his head to catch the rain.

He is literal thinking, and downcast eyes.

He is not perfect.

But he is whole and right and good.

He is trying.

He is music on repeat and movies on rewind.

He is random facts, and a rare smile, and lots of pancakes.

He is strong.

He is brave.

He loves cheese.

He hates seagulls.

He is wonder and color and progress and no-progress.

But first, he is a boy.

He is a statistic.

A pie chart.

Research and articles and speculation.

He is at the heart of public policy and discussions about independent living.

This boy.

This boy is a brother.

A nephew.

A grandson.

A neighbor.

He is a student.

An employee.

A bike-rider, a glasses-wearer, a cake-baker.

He has a point of view.

He has things to say.

He has his father’s chin, and brooding brow.

In his own way, he lights the sky around us, like the sun.

When he speaks, people sit up, and listen.

He makes you feel like yourself. 

He will teach you things.

He will teach you about loss and love and loneliness.

He will teach you that an unconventional life is not a life less lived.

You can choose what you see.

For me, I see a boy.

I see a promise, and a future, and a teacher.

He is important.

He is mine.

I see a boy.

I see a boy beneath the diagnosis.

Can you?

Can you see my son?

My sun.

Written by, Carrie Cariello

Carrie Cariello is the author of What Color Is Monday, How Autism Changed One Family for the Better, and Someone I’m With Has Autism. She lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband, Joe, and their five children. 

Carrie is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY Parents, the TODAY Show, Parents.com. She has been interviewed by NBC Nightly News, and also has a TEDx talk.

She speaks regularly about autism, marriage, and motherhood, and writes a weekly blog at www.carriecariello.com. One of her essays, “I Know What Causes Autism,” was featured as one of the Huffington Post’s best of 2015, and her piece, “I Know Why He Has Autism,” was named one of the top blog posts of 2017 by the TODAY Show.

Interested in writing for Finding Cooper’s Voice? LEARN MORE

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 our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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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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