This post is about my latest essay for Scary Mommy, but it’s also a coming out of sorts: My oldest son, Owen, is autistic. We’ve known since he was in utero that Owen wasn’t your typical kid. Over the last year, we’ve come to understand more about exactly how he is different and what it means for him. In short, autism means that Owen experiences social and sensory stimuli differently than most other people. Sometimes this means he can have unexpected reactions to those experiences. It has been a huge blessing to confirm Owen’s autism. I love Owen, and I love knowing more about him.
Now that we’ve all had some time to digest this information, as a family we decided we’re comfortable with sharing it more publicly. The way we see it, autism is just a fact about Owen, and it’s not something we want there to be any shame or secrecy about. More than that, we believe that neurodiversity and diversity of all kinds enrich life. In our family, we accommodate and celebrate difference so that everyone can feel valued exactly as they are. We hope the things I write about it can help frame autism in that way for others, too, and make the world a little more the way we want it to be for Owen.
And, for the record, Owen is very proud that he is autistic. When Owen introduces himself these days, he loves to say, “I’m Owen. I’m 5, and I’m autistic!” I think that’s an excellent introduction.
In the first essay in which I introduce Owen as the autistic person he is, I write about how I used to worry about Owen’s success in kindergarten this fall, but everything that’s happened in 2020 has given me a new perspective. I now can see that something else is more important. I hope you’ll read my latest for Scary Mommy, I Was Already Worried About My Autistic Son Starting Kindergarten — Then 2020 Happened.