Autism: A Lesson in Love From a Mom and Her “Special Son”


The Weary Mom

I was at the mall when I saw him gleaning across the store. A 10-year old little boy with autism, rocking back and forth. Glazed eyes, he was scratching his skin incessantly and biting himself. Yelling, “I want to go home!”

While other shoppers laughed and talked, murmuring criticisms under their breath, I was unaware of what exactly happened.

I wanted to walk over and give him such a big hug, but that would have just made it worse, flooding his nervous system more.

 That’s when his mother came from the clothing rack not too far away, knelt before him and whispered gentle comforting words as she slowly brought him back to awareness. “Breathe,” she whispered gently. “Breathe.”

Autism: A Lesson in Love From a Mom and Her "Special Son" Jackie Aviles Contributor Miami Moms Blog
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

She stood up, pushed the wheelchair again and went back to shopping. I could see her holding back her tears. I knew this feeling very well. My mother did, too. My brother would do the same thing. This momma was weary, all due to the underlying struggle of autism.

So how can we tenderly love families with different needs?

Be Slow to Judge

The apostle Paul urges us to be patient, bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).

Autism is a complex neurobehavioral condition that includes challenges in social interaction and developmental skills that cause rigid, repetitive behaviors.  

I can’t tell you how many times my family has had to combat the misguided assumptions of others. Those shoppers had no problem criticizing the mother. It’s not “parenting gone wrong” or a misbehaved kid. These actions usually arise because of the neurological impacts of autism on children’s brains.

These assumptions are cruel.

It’s not about getting the “hello” you want back from the child you said hello to. Or demanding they obey your demands when they have literally a million observations going through their brain.

 These children and their families in the store are going through years of hard work, years tough choices. We owe them compassion, not reproach.

Be Moved by Compassion

When Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved to love for them (Matthew 9:36).

I was so moved by what was happening to this #AutismMama, that I walked over to the little boy and handed him the cutest light up Mickey Mouse ears. A smile lit up on his face, and his mother’s, too. She slowly stepped away to continue shopping and I continued to play. This little boy wrapped his arms around me and wouldn’t let go. Not thinking twice about it I quickly returned the embrace. “Nice to meet you,” I said. It was there that I realized, this little boy had moved me to love for my neighbor.

Be very slow to see the struggles of another as not important. They may, in fact, be more Christ-like than anything you ever wondered. It wasn’t until I looked over at his mom quietly watching me interact with him that I realized it wasn’t normal for her to see someone acknowledging her son.

That’s when she said, “Thank you. Thank you for not pushing him off of you when he embraced you. Thank you for not staring at him confused. Thank you for not ignoring him.”

I couldn’t believe that this little boy, made in the image of God and at such a young age, had taught such an important lesson that so many adults need to learn today: how to love others, with kindness first and without determining whether they deserve it or not.

 Be present, willing to listen and desperate to edify and lift up (Galatians 6:2). Let compassion move you to love.

Children with special needs are fearfully and wonderfully made. They are treasured by God and bear his image. They are chosen, beloved and wanted. They belong. Let’s seek to edify with our words, reflect God’s love through our actions, and be reminded to bear life with them through patience and love.