This beautiful letter was written by Beth for her son Marty and you can follow them and their family on Instagram.
To my darling boy,
You were my long awaited first baby and after a turbulent pregnancy and birth you were placed gently in my arms, together at last, we have been inseparable ever since. You are 8 now but if I close my eyes I can still remember the feeling of your tiny frame against my chest and your wise old eyes staring straight through to my soul.
You were around 6 months old when I noticed things were different. You couldn’t cope with loud cafes or busy shops, you shunned away from bright lights and you were repetitive in your movements. You seemed uncomfortable in your skin, never quite content, but they say a mothers love is blind and I buried those feelings of difference, because to me you were perfect just as you were and I didn’t want anyone to tell me otherwise.
Toddlerhood was filled with laughter and meltdowns both epic in proportion, you started lining up toys and watching the same movie on repeat. You regressed in speech barely putting two words together yet could recite word for word your favourite story book, which I later learned was echolalia, autism speak for repeating words and phrases previously heard.
The weekly trips that I put us through trying to fit into toddler groups, which would inetivably end in both of our tears seem so fruitless now but looking back I so desperately wanted to fit in. If only I’d realised that you were born to stand out it would have saved us both a lot of heartache.
I’d heard of Autism before of course, it was just a word that had no meaning but by the time you were 4 it was my most googled phrase.
I didn’t want to label you or admit to anyone that my baby boy didn’t fit society’s version of normal, whatever that is and so I kept it to myself, not really telling anyone my worries although over time I found out our nearest and
dearest were googling too.
I think the thing that upset me most when I devoured the words on the screen were that your quirks were bullet pointed as traits, as things that were Autism instead of things that were you. I wasn’t okay with that and couldn’t get my head around the fact that you could be both, that you may have Autism but that you are not Autism.
We carried on regardless through pre-school which caused us both much anxiety. You spent your days there rewriting out the alphabet again and again as a coping mechanism, I was told it was good for you, that it may make you interested in others, but you didn’t play or join in and for nearly two years there were endless tummy aches, shutdowns and tears.
I thought I was doing the right thing or possibly the only thing, preparing you for the big wide world but I was wrong and it’s my biggest regret. In those two years I lost you, you withdrew into yourself, a big ball of pressure and worry. Luckily by chance I stumbled across home education and realised that by trying to fit you into this world I was denying you the chance to be yourself and so I set us both free, to be together, to go at your own pace, to just be. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. You now have friends and the freedom just to be you, we live our lives on our own terms and we’ve been learning and adventuring ever since.
You are gentle and you are kind, ferocious and wild, you say my name a thousand times a day and repeat question after question that you know the answer to just because you like the way it sounds. You have specialist interests that consume your every waking day, you are obsessive in your thinking and you could talk for hours about the merits of Amazon verses eBay, FYI it’s Amazon every time.
You have to work harder than the average child just by doing life, clothes are scratchy, food is smelly, people are noisy, they speak a language you can’t keep up with and yet you try every single day, one foot in front of the other, fall, get up, repeat, through tears and shaky hands, both yours and my own.
Thankfully there’s a language that doesn’t use words, or idioms, you don’t need to read between the lines to understand it, that’s the language of love and we’ve got that in spades.
You were 7 when you were diagnosed as autistic but you are so much more than that one word, I could use a thousand words and it still wouldn’t come close to describe everything that you are. You are just you, Marty, a boy who loves sonic the hedgehog and climbing trees, midnight feasts and bare bottoms.
They say that parents are meant to teach their children the ways of the world, but you have taught me more about courage, determination and life than I could ever hope to teach you.
Continue being you, beautiful, glorious you and I will always give you the freedom to soar, together we can fly.
Love you to infinity,