Today you reached double figures, the grand old age of ten. Everyone says it, but where has the time gone?
A while ago, I wrote another letter to you. I told you about how I had found life hard after you were born and the subsequent year, but how I loved you with all of my heart. None of that has changed but what I want to tell you now is how proud I am of the young man you have become.
You have overcome so many challenges and achieved so much and my heart swells with pride on each and every occasion. Whether that be your continuing development of your speech and language, the way you progressed with your swimming or your countless achievements in dance where you have even taken part in two shows in our local theatre.
I recently asked a number of people who love you very much to think of a word they associate with you and I was overwhelmed with their choices. Confident, kind, inspirational, funny, adorable to name but a few. I want you to remember these words in years to come and if you ever have doubts about who you are, I want you to refer back to this.
You see there is another word that people often use to describe you, one that you’re not yet aware of and that is autistic. If there is a time that comes where your understanding of the world around you has grown, I will explain to you in the best way I can what that actually means.
The way your brain works means that you see the world around you very differently to other people you know. Your senses are often heightened so quite often you like to have everything very loud (it does drive me around the bend a lot!) and you are very rigid in terms of the foods you eat, despite me trying to open you up to other tastes.
You can’t often say what you feel and become anxious or upset and that makes me sad, as I want to help and try and put you at ease but without knowing what it is that is bothering you, it is hard so I just hug you and tell you that everything will be ok.
You like having people around you but friendship doesn’t come easy. I know you have many people who enjoy your company but you haven’t quite worked out how to reciprocate those feelings.
It means that at some point in the future, you will move to another school away from the people you have grown up with but one where they can hopefully prepare you more for your adult life.
What I do want you to know though, is despite the challenges you face head on daily, your autism can be a strength to you and every word used to describe you is entirely accurate. You may be seeing life through a different lens, but much of what you see makes you deal with life in a way that other people would find difficult.
The irony of this letter, is that you may never read this but if you do I want you to know about your amazing spectrum coloured coat that has empowered you to be the wonderful person you are. I will always be by your side, willing you on to achieve the impossible.
And the most fitting word to describe you out of all that were provided was this:
You are and always will be.