My dearest Ian,
When you were born, I had no clue about the adventures waiting for me or about the challenges you would present, or the things I would need to learn, academically, personally, and emotionally.
I didn’t know then that I would have to watch The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh five hundred times, or that I would enjoy watching it five hundred times, with you.
I didn’t know that I would have a child who would stay home way past his teens, and will quite possibly stay home until the end of my life.
I didn’t know how much joy could be found in the smallest things, like getting a smile out of you, or giving you a hug, or watching your concentration as you try to remember the correct response to a question, or hearing you correct yourself when you misspeak.
I didn’t know then that tears in your eyes would tear me to shreds, or that seeing you in pain was the worst thing for me in the whole wide world, and that each time it happened it would be forever seared into my soul, a psychic wound from which I would struggle to recover.
My ‘little orange boy’, with the fuzz of auburn hair that stuck straight up off your head, with the golden skin and russet-brown eyes. I called you Tiger then. Perhaps I always knew you had a battle ahead of you. Perhaps your rarity of soul just spoke to me. My little angel sent from heaven. My beautiful cuddly teddy bear of a child, who glowed in dreamland as if his aura were his own personal nightlight.
You may never know what you mean to us, and perhaps that doesn’t matter. I just hope you feel safe, and loved, and special. Your autism could have broken us, but somehow it made us stronger, and we – all of us – are better people because of it. You are the keystone of our little family, the heart around which we all revolve.
I have gained so much from knowing you. I have met people I never would have met; I’ve spoken to students about autism, something I never would have dreamed I could do, and never would have done had it not been for you; I have learned about what it means to be a human on a different path; I have learned to laugh in the face of awful adversity, and genuinely crazy situations; I have fought for you; I have cried for you; and I have made friends because of you, and found my soul sister, someone I never would have met but for you.
You are an amazing human being. And your autism is 100% a part of that.
Your life has taken us on an extraordinary journey – at times a bit of a rollercoaster it’s true – but also a journey of love. I am so proud of you, young man.
Until the next time you ask for movies …
… I’ll be here.