As I mentioned in my previous post, I want to share the thoughts I have for my son in the form of a letter to him. In sharing this letter, I hope that you have a small insight into the challenges and joys of my life as a mother to this incredible young man.
My Amazing Boy,
I want others to know that you are learning to control the tone of your voice when you get frustrated. I know it’s not easy, but we spend a lot of time working on using a tone that would be expected. We practice it, talk about it, and watch videos where we can discuss whether the tone was expected. This type of work is necessary, and we do it ALL the time.
I want others to know that you notice things—a lot of things. You notice when we drive a different way, you notice when something in the room is different, you notice when someone is crying. You worry when you see someone very sad, and sometimes it’s super hard for you to not take on that emotion yourself.
I want others to know that you need “wait time” before you answer questions. I want them to know that you are worth the wait. I want them to know that you can play out movies in your mind. They should know that this is what’s going on when you are saying movie lines to yourself. I want others to know that eating food is hard for you. This is one of the reasons why we sometimes need to bring food when we come over. Speaking of coming over, parties can be a lot of work for you. There are so many people, everything is loud, the food is unpredictable to you, and you don’t have your own space to retreat to when you need a break.
I want others to know that different is not less, that you see and experience the world differently than they do. I want others to know that you are not an autistic boy. To clarify, you are on the autism spectrum, but autism does not define who you are. You are creative, helpful, a video game pro, sensitive, curious, observant, loveable, fun… you are so much more than a diagnosis. It’s important to me that others understand you are a whole person with so many different and amazing traits. I want others to be sensitive, to learn about and use people first language. We want them to understand that some of the ways you see the world can be very insightful and almost magical.
My sweet boy, God has used you in such an influential way in my life. The things you’ve helped me celebrate may have been things that would have gone unnoticed. You have brought to life a side of me that may have never existed if God hadn’t blessed me with you. My faith has been stretched and grown a million times over because God strategically used you in my life. You have inspired me to pray about and start an inclusive special needs ministry at our church. You and your presence in my life have helped me be vulnerable, bold, and equipped to do things I never would have dreamt possible. Through being your mother, God has given me the strength to keep pushing past heartbreaking moments, to get back up when others knock me down, and to keep going when sometimes all I want to do is rest. Because of you, God has given me a passion to advocate for others who go unnoticed, who may not be considered valuable by society’s standards, who need the gospel just like everyone else. My relationship, faith, and walk with God are stronger because I can look out my door and see the opportunity for mission all around me. Every day I remember that we are called to make disciples of ALL nations, not just those we judge to be capable of understanding the sacrifice God made for us. God revealed these things to me because I am your mother. You are my blessing, and I am grateful for you.
Marisa Altamirano is a passionate advocate for children who are uniquely abled. She serves as the director of the special needs ministry at VantagePoint Church. Marisa is a wife and mom to three wonderful boys, one of whom has autism