Showing My Non-Verbal Son The Beauty In The World

My nonverbal son doesn’t like many things. I don’t say that negatively or as something that you should even feel bad about. It’s just a fact. Lucas isn’t a fanboy for much. 

Rather, he loves the few things he loves very much. His iPad, his TV shows, his Pirate Booty, his family, and all the things he holds most dear are all held in the highest regard. I see it in his eyes and in his actions. 

The moment Lucas comes home, he wants his iPad. Sometimes he wants the yellow iPad, not the blue one. Sometimes he wants the purple one, not the yellow. Sometimes he wants all of them and holds them out like a computer hacker. He’s an iPad connoisseur. 

For food, it’s the same thing only on a gluttonous level. He requests a small bag of Pirate Booty at the end of every meal as if it were a Marlboro in the 1970s. To get him to turn around and leave the kitchen when he’s on the hunt is like trying to turn around the Titanic. The fridge is the iceberg and he’s heading straight for it. Watch Jack sing the ocean floor, Rose. This boy needs some orange juice. 

Autism Awareness Month son van gogh gray

He loves us too. This past weekend was a really loving one for my boy. On more than one occasion, he walked right up to me and kissed me out of nowhere. Not only that, but he held it there.

Picture walking around your kid’s room, trying to find the socks that he flung off, only to have him approach, lift your chin with his hand, and firmly plant his lips on your cheek…for ten seconds. I couldn’t stop myself from letting out a charmed laugh. 

I love you too, buddy. Thank you. You’re sweet. 

He’d pull back with a giant smile and it melted my heart each time. No one knows love like Lucas does. 

The outside world doesn’t know that about him. To many, he’s sweet, but he’s closed off in their eyes. They don’t realize how much he loves his favorite things. All they know is that there are things that other children love that he couldn’t care less for. 

Lucas doesn’t know Roblox or Justin Bieber or Pokemon or whatever sorely outdated reference I can make. His birthday cake doesn’t have Disney characters on it. His likes don’t flow with whatever is trending. Hashtags have no effect on my boy. He’s like a tiny hipster without the sloppy red beard and buffalo plaid jacket.

Autism Awareness Month van gogh

People ask about how he gets along with friends and even that takes on a different meaning for my guy. Lucas doesn’t have friends he plays with. He might do parallel play in the literalist sense of the word. He’s on his iPad and whoever else is on another. That’s about as far as it goes. There’s no Scrabble or patty-cake. He does his own thing. They do theirs.  

Even the things he does like, he sometimes doesn’t like. Despite loving Elmo on TV, he turns his nose up at Elmo merchandise. We’ve bought him Wiggles toys, based on shows he is obsessed with, only to watch them turn into Wiggly garbage all over the bedroom floor. My son doesn’t care much for material things unless they are covered in cheese and served with Pirate Booty at the end. 

OK, so that settles that. We’re done. Lucas likes what Lucas likes. Set him in his room with food and iPads and go for a walk. He’ll be happy. Why bother? If he already has everything he could ever want, then why do we do it? 

We do it because he’s not done discovering yet. He’s not done growing yet. He hasn’t found all the things he will ever love. He hasn’t met all the people who will ever love him yet. None of us have. 

I look at my son’s life the same way I look at my own. There’s so much more to explore. I have people to meet, places to go, and things to discover. Every morning that I wake up is another opportunity to find whatever piece of my life is missing. The tricky part is that you never know what is missing until you find the piece that belongs there.  

For Easter, I took my kids to the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit on Long Island. It was beautiful. We stood in a room, covered in LED screens, and watched as the artwork of Vincent Van Gogh moved and changed around us. There was visual beauty in that room on levels that none of us had ever seen before. 

Autism Awareness Month boy ipad van gogh

Did he love it? Maybe not. Did he like it? Yes. It was a family event that I specifically picked out because I hoped he might enjoy it. He did. We all did. 

I could have kept him home, though. He would have loved to stay in his room with his iPad. He could have missed brunch, where he was on his best behavior too. Heck, he could have missed Easter morning altogether. After all, he’s OK with just chilling in his room. 

Then again, I am content staying home too. Yet I leave my bed, room, and home. I go out to get the most from my days on this Earth. I go out because I’m still alive and, until I’m not, I want to live this life to its fullest extent. I want to live all my days looking for the things I love and the things that love me. 

And I want the same for him. The only difference is that he might need a guide to show him where those things are. That’s my job.  This world is beautiful and, the more I experience it, the more I see that beauty. I want to make sure he does too. 




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