Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beautiful Boy

Darling, darling, darling.

My 3-year-old son is sweet, lovable, and autistic. He can be hard to relate to and difficult to raise--more so for my wife, who is home with him while I'm away at the office--but he is a light in my life. More than anything, I want him to grow up safe and happy. There are moments when I wonder if it will be possible.

Veteran journalist Robert MacNeill delivers a heartbreaking report on his autistic grandson. The piece shows very well that autism affects not only children but entire families. Even in "mild" cases such as my son's, autism can be devastating. And I am only beginning to realize this.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

Perhaps the most devastating realization of all is that "it will never get easier." My son and our family will always have to cope with and manage his autism.

Ah, but it really is all right. We'll not only deal but flourish. We'll just have to be patient, as Lennon sings.

Yet, I must make one more confession. Much of my son's behavior I see in myself. Perhaps I am only indulging in natural self-centeredness, the kind where we blithely assume that others see and feel things as we do. Yet I have always been a person of routine, sometimes rigid routine. I have never been one for socializing or easy with eye contact. Much of my life is internal--indeed, I blog partly to express this internal life! I am fascinated with transformations and little things much as my son enjoys watching his toy cars roll.

My son is making progress. He goes to a special pre-school and seems to enjoy it. He is surrounded by experts and family who love him. We are all learning to care for him and for ourselves. And we are all hopeful about a future that we know will have many rough patches but also a curious charm and intrigue that we would be hard pressed to trade.

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