Today is my son’s 22nd birthday. Matthew is a handsome, blonde, blue-eyed, tall young man. Matthew also has autism. He is non-verbal, needs 1:1 support, has had behavioural isses throughout his life, and will always require support. He does not understand the dangers that you and I do – stopping and looking before crossing the street, being outside in frigid weather without the right clothes, He cannot read or write. At this point you might be feeling sorry for him, and for us, his family. Don’t. Matthew brings us such joy. When he smiles, it lights up the room he is in. When he laughs, it’s right from the belly and so real. When he looks you in the eye, he is communicating with you – either his frustration at being non-verbal, his need for something, or to tell you that you are his friend. He enjoys watching the wind move the leaves in trees, being in water, skiing with his Dad, being in a room with his sister, cousins, aunts and uncles and the rest of the family. He matters. Matthew has taught us far more than we could ever teach him – patience, tolerance, courage, what it means to love unconditionally, As I ponder his future I hope for him what we all hope for – to be healthy, to be loved, to be engaged socially with friends and family, to be productive each and every day and always learning. His life won’t necessarily be easy, but he is lucky to have a supportive family network, committed and caring workers, and friends who want to be with him and explore the world through his eyes. My hope is that we continue to move forward and have inclusive and accepting communities that are able to provide this for Matthew, and others like him.
Happy Birthday to my beautiful boy – my heart overflows with love for you. Mom
By Monica from Toronto