What Autism Brings Us

Hi.

My name is Carrie. 

I have five kids, and my second son has autism. His name is Jack. He is sixteen years old. 

For me, autism brings a trifecta of hope, grief, and peace.

Hope is the bundle of rocks I carry everywhere I go.

Grief is the small box of feathers I let myself open every once in a while. 

And peace? Well, that is the long, jagged mountain I climb, clutching my bundle of hope and a box full of feathers.

Jack and my firstborn, Joseph, are thirteen months apart. 

When they were toddlers bumbling around the playground, people often mistook them for twins. They were similar in height, and had the same light brown hair, and I loved to dress them in matching outfits.

But as time went on, their differences became more and more obvious.

One waved hello from the stroller, while the other screamed.

One kept his hand on the grocery cart, and the other tore down the aisles knocking boxes to the floor.

One flourished in public school, and the other was referred to a small program in a nearby town.

One dabbled in baseball, and karate, and soccer.

The other went to occupational therapy, and speech, and groups designed to help with social skills. 

These days, one rows for the high school crew team, and the other sorts DVDs by running time and title.

One has a girlfriend and a car and picks up Chipotle when we’re in the mood for burrito bowls.

The other rides in the passenger seat and finds songs on the radio.

The gap is widening. In fact, it is glaring. What started as two brothers thirteen months apart has turned into two teenagers who hardly resemble the same species.

It stings. That’s all I’m saying. It stings like the smallest paper cut.

Right now I am on the jagged side of the mountain with my rocks and my feathers, and I am holding on for dear life.

In the waning January sun, one brother sits at the kitchen counter, leaning over his laptop. He is reading an article about the attack on our nation’s Capitol. He describes the flags, and the violence, and the chaos. 

The other brother decided to clean the stovetop because he said it had too much badness stuck to it.

Both were quiet.

Both were absorbed in their work.

Both felt important, and good, and whole. 

Both will do great things, in their own time.

As the late afternoon shadows grew long and darkness loomed skyward, a spark of light ignited the room.

Joey. Look. How clean it is.

Yes, buddy, that looks great.

For the Capitol. That was not. The American flag. 

He will do great things. In his own time, he will fly.

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.

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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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