I had no idea when I gave birth to my son that one day he would develop a superpower. He was like any other kid, but by far the cutest one I’d ever seen. For six months, I enjoyed cuddling with him and gazing into his beautiful blue eyes. Then, everything started to change as he ventured off into a world of his own. Two and half years later we learned that he was autistic.
Although he’s 14 now, he still struggles with forming complete sentences and speaking loud enough for people to hear him. But, he can talk and he does it well…with me. He’s very quiet and shy. So quiet in fact, that at one point, he went half a year in middle school before his teachers learned that he could speak. Despite his reserved nature, he is very smart. Unfortunately, not many people know this because he’s not one to show them. He amazes me constantly. I just wish others could see how amazing he is.
He also has a superpower.
I’ve noticed over the years that his superpower is growing in strength. He can walk right past people and they can’t see him. Someone can walk by, shake my hand and continue on right past my son as if he’s not there. It’s the craziest thing.
He has the superpower of becoming invisible!
For instance, last night we were having dinner with 8 people, including myself. We were at the restaurant for about two hours. He was completely invisible for the first hour and 40 minutes to everyone but me. How does he do that? No one noticed him sitting there.
No one saw him when he got up to revisit the buffet and no one saw him when he sat back down. It was like he wasn’t there. There were even times during dinner when others at the table would play and talk to the 8 year old who was there also. My son would watch them as they all interacted, laughing and carrying on. Yet still no one saw him, even as the tears welled up in his eyes.
He uses this power everywhere he goes. At home, school, in the car, at the grocery store. Only on select people does his power fail to work. Me, of course and then a few others, but none of them does he see every day.
The bad part about superpowers is that sometimes people don’t want to have them. They want to be like everyone else. Their superpower makes them feel separated and different. It causes them to feel left out.
When someone is able to see my son, I always make a point of thanking them. They get even more thanks when they take the time to speak with him.
He’s a person just like everyone else. He may not be what people would expect. He may not speak the way others do. He may not laugh at jokes like you and I. He may not tell his own or interact in the way people are used to. But, he’s still a person. He has feelings. He has a heart that can be broken. I wish I could help him get rid of that superpower. It’s a miserable superpower to have.
I am so sorry my sweet boy, that people don’t see you. You have no idea how much it breaks my heart. You are such a wonderful, bright young man with so much potential. You have a bigger heart than anyone I know. Don’t let people destroy you. Don’t let them ruin your self esteem. Stand tall and know that you are great. Know that you have qualities that other people only wish that they could have. You have a pure heart. Unlike them, you are not out to hurt a single soul. You only wish to love and to make others happy. Be you, my sweet boy. If they don’t see you or accept you, they are the ones missing out, not you.
No one should be treated as if they are invisible.
Haha, sounds like the complete opposite of my boy Dmitry, who at 3 years old is 10 feet tall with an elephant’s trumpet. Very hard to ignore.
You know, I’ve read before of snippy autism parents who put words in their child’s mouths, something like “I don’t care what names you call me, I wasn’t paying attention anyway.” I admit I laughed a little, but I think it’s the wrong message. Yes, sometimes Dmitry is deeply in his own world, but until and unless he can finally tell me… I don’t know what he hears. And I’d prefer it if we all just assumed he’s listening.
I wonder if folks make the same mistake with your young man? That just because he (apparently) “can’t” speak, that he’s not listening either? And just because he doesn’t react that he doesn’t care?
Dmitry, thank you so much for your comment! I’ve always wondered which I’d prefer – my son to be loud and easily heard by everyone in a block’s radius or so quiet that I have to drag information out of him. I think both have their pros and cons.
I completely agree with what you’ve said. We like to pretend as though we know what they’re thinking and feeling, as an attempt to comfort ourselves. But, in reality we have no idea until they tell us. Maybe you’re right. People think that since he’s so quiet that he must not care whether he’s involved or not. But, if they were only to open their eyes and look at him they would feel differently. He may not have verbally expressed his emotions, but he couldn’t hide the tears welling up in his eyes as he watched everyone interact with everyone else, but him. I can’t stand it. It rips me to pieces and it happens all the time.
People are such strange creatures. I have a nephew who is hearing impaired. He can hear some muffled sounds, but mainly he reads lips. For some reason, my sister didn’t let him enter the hearing impaired community. She home schooled him, and they had some limited sign language skills. She would always tell me that he had trouble understanding some concepts.At family gatherings, I always tried to include him in the conversation, but all our family did this. I don’t know what it was like for him in other situations. You know what? That kid—who is now 26–understands way more than my sister led on. He has finally entered the hearing impaired world (meaning a place where more people speak in sign language). At my sister’s funeral, there was an interpreter for him. I was the first to speak to honor my sister, and I will never forget the look on his face, and the tears that broke out, when I thanked the interpreter for being there so that he could hear what was being said.
We communicate through emails/facebook, and he is one funny person. He has a huge sense of humor, and is a very compassionate person. He is thriving where he is now. I’m sure my sister would be proud of him.
I wish you didn’t have to bear the heartbreak over the superpower of your son. Just as mental illness, what people don’t understand, they simply ignore—or think they are going to “catch it”. I’m hoping for you that a time will come where he will no longer be invisible.
Hugs to you!
April, reading the story of your nephew brought me to tears. You’re right. People underestimate the abilities of special people such as your nephew and my son. They limit their potential and have no clue as to the amazing abilities that lie beneath the surface. I wish people could see beyond themselves and their own perspectives. As I read earlier, I wish they could all “liberate themselves from ignorance”.
Thank you so much for the comment and for your understanding of how these things can truly affect people.
I’m sad for you.
Why ignore someone just because you are uncomfortable and don’t know what to say or how to interact. That is just plain rude.
Sorry but this just makes me sad.
I work with people with disabilities and interact with them every day. I see them all as unique individuals and although we shouldn’t really play favourites, I have a couple that I love to speak with. Even those that don’t speak are wonderful and unique. 🙂
I hope your son’s super power disappears.
Suzjones, thank you so much for the work you do and even more so, for the compassion you show them. I wish there were more people like you. They need people like you.
You’re right, it’s very rude. How would they like it if someone were to treat them that way? It makes no sense to me. It also makes no sense to me how it is that people can treat my son like this, when he goes out of his way to make others happy, to make them laugh and even gives them his favorite things just to see them smile. When did such kindness start being ‘rewarded’ in such a mean way?
Thank you, I hope his superpower disappears too.
When I began working as support worker I had no preconceptions about disabilities. Although I no longer work in direct support but in the admin/finance area, I still interact daily with these clients. I don’t see their disability any longer, I see them and their personalities. I really must post the poem that one of the clients wrote to give to me. I love it but others probably wouldn’t understand why. You might though 🙂
Keep up the hard work. You’re a loving mother. 🙂 🙂 🙂
“I see them” – that is exactly the way it should be. I would love to read it if you decide to post it. Thank you so much for your kind words!
Poor dear. But you know what? It’s up to you to make him realize now that it’s not him that’s really missing out, it’s them. Let him know that he is important and worth knowing and that though the people around him are ignorant, that it’s only because they don’t understand what a wonderful person he is. It’s easy for these kids to get the impression that no one pays attention to them because they’re different. That difference will never go away. What’s important is that he knows it’s okay to be different. Stick with him and embrace it. Do it outwardly. People will eventually see it and follow suit.
But you already knew that. I know this because I’ve been through it too.
*hugs to both of you*
Linda, thank you for the comment and for your support. You’re right on every point. I tell him every day, several times a day how wonderful, smart, kind he is. Also that he is such a special young man with so much potential. Constantly I try to boost his self esteem, even more so when I notice that others are crushing it. I don’t understand how or why people act the way they do, especially when it comes from the very people who are supposed to love him the most.
I’ve always hoped that by lifting him up in front of others it would change their perspective. For some this works, but rarely. I hope that over time, more people will come around. You’re right, the difference will always be there. I just wish he didn’t have to feel it.
I know. People are both ignorant and cruel in being so. My own autistic son is loud – he speaks loudly and he stims, which scares people. I know he sees it but it’s his only way of coping with the stress of being in public, where anything can happen at any given moment.
He likes to hold my hand, which also gets a lot of stares – you don’t see many eighteen year olds holding their mom’s hand. I just do my best to ignore them, to set an example for my son that it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he’s comfortable, we’re together, and we love each other just the way we are.
I couldn’t agree more. There are much more important things in our child’s life than the responses they get from others. It’s up to us to show them love and provide the security and comfort that they need.
And if we can raise a little awareness, even better. 🙂
You would probably be surprised at the number of people who don’t pay attention to in life unless it has something strictly to do with them. There are very few people who are sincerely interested in anything but themselves.
I’m sorry that your son has to put up with these people. I wish it was different for him.
Glynis, you are so right. Anything outside of them and their interests is seemingly burdensome and unimportant. It’s very sad that it is that way. Thank you.
Your son sounds like a wonderful person. It is a shame that so many people avoid interacting with him. I am reminded of the way people behave towards me after my husband died, they avoided all mention of his name. I think it mainly that they do not know to deal with the situation. Hopefully things will improve for your son as he moves through his teens.
Grannymar, thank you for your comment. He is wonderful and it is truly a shame. They have no idea how amazing and funny he is.
I’m sorry that you had to deal with a similar experience. You’re right that people don’t know what to say in times like those. Also, they’re afraid of stirring up emotions and re-opening the wound, so to speak. What they don’t realize is that the wound is still very much open and that the person needs to be able to talk about it.
WOW. I really enjoyed how you described your sons scenario in such a poetic fashion. This truly brought tears to my eyes! For a moment there when you talked about him seeing everyone at the table playing, I felt the chills pass through my spine and the tear run down my face! You are a great mom as I imagine he is a GREAT child!! I wish you nothing but the best! I will ask you one favor…PLEASE give him a HUGE hug on my behalf. I’m on his team 🙂
God has a very special place for the both of you deep in his heart! Nowadays good moms are hard to come by but you are definitely one of them!!
Thank you so much for this comment and for such kind words. He is great. I sure wish others would take the time to see him for who he is, but sadly most don’t. I will definitely give him a hug from you. Thank you so much for being on his team!