I was looking at my son the other night and saw him. I imagined him without Autism and the learning delays that come with it. I thought of all the things that an average sixteen year old boy would be doing. Girlfriends, movie nights, hanging out with his friends.
I highly doubt that I would be tucking him into bed. He’d likely have a “keep out” poster on his door and loud music playing through his headphones. Or maybe he’d let me in, and we’d have a heart to heart chat about his day, his concerns or his hopes for the future.
What is it like to have a sixteen year old boy?
I don’t know, but I can imagine. That night, instead of the boy I see everyday, I saw a young man. A guy taller than me, with tightened facial features, and a few hairs on his chin and upper lip. When I said “goodnight” I heard a man’s voice repeat the same.
My son is not a little boy anymore, but to see that is so incredibly difficult. Autism and other learning disabilities can play tricks on a person’s perspective. My son doesn’t behave like a sixteen year old, nor has he advanced mentally to fit that age; not even close. So it requires deep concentration to look beyond what my mind sees, to even get a glimpse of the young man he’s become.
Although it may not seem like it, I have a sixteen year old young man living under my roof. A young man who does have hopes and dreams, even though they’re rarely discussed. A young man who has overcome many obstacles to get to where he is now.
A young man who I wish could see himself as a young man too, so that maybe one day he would get to experience what it’s like to be one.