GUEST COLUMN: Appreciating kids with autism for their unique contributions

Bob Boulton

While cleaning out some old files recently they brought to mind a Christmas that our family enjoyed in 2010.

Bob Boulton

It was a terrific Christmas Day, with the whole family together – my wife and I and three adult children, plus one marvelous and energetic granddaughter.

By that year, I had finally learned to take our two ‘autism spectrum’ sons for exactly who they are — on days of celebration as well as every other day of the year.

For example, Older Son got up from the Christmas table early to play with his daughter and the dog, and that was a good thing. Her interest in medium-rare roast beef, grilled veggies and green beans cooked just so, was marginal at best. She needed entertaining.

And when, as he said, he really didn’t have “much to say” later after dessert, he went off by himself to have a nap. He had surely earned it, having for years held down either two jobs, or a job and school, or a job and job shadowing, or unpaid placements.

Younger Son also left the table early and re-appeared, as I recall, just as the visiting Older Brother and his family were about to leave. He’d already had enough socializing, by far, and needed a break. But that didn’t mean he didn’t welcome his brother and family, a fact that I had only recently come to understand.

I am so proud of both our sons. Each had his own way of participating in our Christmas celebration, as well as helping out and offering to help out, as needed.

Of course, our very neurotypical daughter (meaning, not on the autism spectrum) cooked a spectacular feast, and Mom did all of the things she does, not only on Christmas Day but every other day, to make ours a joyful and well-organized home.

I am so thankful for my entire family, and I am equally thankful that I had finally learned about the richness that our spectrum sons offer us, and can offer others who have the patience to try to understand.

Each of our sons makes his own unique and valuable contribution to our family.

And to the workplace.

And to the community.

Bob Boulton is a Sarnia writer and the creator of a blog for new writers, bobswritefromthestart.blogspot.com