Experts On My Own Children: One Parent’s Take On Non-Verbal Autism

I’m not an expert on autism, nor am I an expert on parenting. I am, however, an expert on my own children. They are the kids I know the best. They are a part of me. 

This blog, these posts, and the stories I have been lucky to share are some of the most rewarding and therapeutic experiences I could have ever imagined. Thinking back to when it first began, I don’t think I could have fully grasped what it would mean to me. 

Prior to 2017, there were stories that lived in my brain. Some were painful and some were not, but no matter which, they just rattled around up there. Every once in a while, I’d remember a person, place, or thing and wince. It was as if it was still happening. 

james lucas 2014

What I quickly realized was that writing and sharing that memory with people reading helped to alleviate that. After the first few months, I went back and reread some of the tales I told and couldn’t believe how they had drifted from my mind. They were still a part of me, but they didn’t haunt me anymore. 

There have been a number of topics covered in these years, but raising a non-verbal child with, what some would call, “severe autism” was always the main one. I feel as though on the surface, it makes our family unique. Most unaffected by special needs can’t really understand how it flows within a family.  

They see us from across a supermarket or waiting in line somewhere. Often, if they’ve noticed us, it could be because my son is having a difficult time. A small commotion raises their attention and, seeing us, it alters their view of what special needs families are. They base their mental image on the one brief moment in time before their eyes. 

For that reason, I wanted to tell the world about Lucas. One of the first posts, When It’s Just Us, was a big one for me. This, to me, was a glimpse into our family.  

However, that’s all it is. It’s a glimpse into our family.  

Each family affected by autism is different from another. Not only are the ways in which my son’s autism presents itself unique to him but so are the other people in our home. Even if another kis happened to share every single trait that Lucas does, he still has a different father and sibling. The people they are changes the dynamic too. Nothing is the same, even when it seems that way on the surface. 

easter 2021

That holds true for any family. Just because you have a 14-year-old daughter and I have a 14-year-old daughter, that doesn’t mean that our stories work for one another. Your kid is your kid. Mine is mine.  

Parenting, whether special needs or not, is an individualized experience. I can offer anecdotes from my life and, hopefully, others can find pieces that might apply to their own. That’s really all we can do. 

I never wanted to be one of those parents who run around social media correcting others on their parenting based on something I’m doing in my own home. I offer no judgments or critiques. Rather, I search for common ground and try to understand the motivations of others. Show me how you parent, explain the reasons why, and it’s on me to take that information to try to make myself better. 

Most people who batter you with their advice are the ones you would never listen to anyway. That’s one of the main things that scare me away from being that way myself.  It’s that self-unawareness of someone posting on Facebook about what you need to do with your own kids, while theirs are on fire. You look and think, “I wouldn’t take this person’s advice on where to eat lunch, much less how to raise my children. Besides, they don’t even know my kids.” 

And they don’t. You know your kids. I know mine. This exchange of ideas and sharing of information is supposed to be a pool we pick and choose from. It’s not the end-all, be-all. I can’t fix your issues. I can just show you my own and hope you can use it to make your life easier. 

Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Be leery of anyone who claims they wrote one.  




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