In Honor of Autism Awareness and National Poetry Month

By Martianne Stanger

April is Autism Awareness Month, as well as National Poetry Month, and although I am neither the mother of an Autistic child, nor a practiced poet, I want to honor both these observances today.

Fascinated by how things work, our son managed to set a camera on a stool, taking this photo of his own big, brown eyes, which I refer to in the poem (below)

You see, for the past few years, my husband and I have been uncovering what makes our eldest boy “unique” and “different”.  In our journey through figuring out “what’s wrong” with our son, so we can better highlight what is “right” about him, we have been served up an entire litany of alphabet soup:  ASD, ADD, PDD, OCD, ODD, SPD – and those aren’t even all the letters that have been dished out by friends, family, medical professionals, and strangers alike.

Quite a mouthful, don’t you think?

Luckily, most of the conditions referred to by these daunting acronyms have been ruled out.  In fact, just last month, a neuro-psychologist “cleared” our son of a possible autism diagnosis, saying that while our boy shares many things in common with children with ASD, he would best be described by some of the other aforementioned letters.

Not as fortunately, the same neuropsych let us know that we have a “long road ahead” of us and “it isn’t going to be easy.”  (Gotta love a dose of blatant honesty to encourage a mom!)

So it is that I continue trying to navigate the road to best parenting our eldest child, attempting to maintain more than a modicum of hope amidst the realities of the appointments, therapies, and general life-juggling and hoop-jumping which lays ahead.   As I do this, I often cross paths with families with autistic children, whose kids tend to share some of the “quirks” and sensory issues that our son displays.

I respect and empathize with families who have children on the spectrum and wish to honor each and every one of them!

Thus, I close with a poem that I wrote a couple of weeks ago as a part of a three session introduction to Jennie Linthort’s LifeSPEAKS workshop for moms of special needs children.   In it, I set aside the obvious frustrations of parenting a child who is wired a bit differently in order to embrace the unique gift that my child is.

My hope is that, as you read the poem below, you will be able to overlook the fact that I am not a practiced poet, and, instead, just enjoy the message: Each and every child is a special gift!


“Grace as I See My Gift”

Sometimes by will,
Sometimes by force,
I stop.

I catch my breath.

I pause planning,
Pretending I am in control.

All stress dies down,

And truth prevails.

I am not in charge.
I am not at fault.
I am free.

To cry.
To laugh.
To breathe.

Ahhhh, to breathe…

And to see

The joy.

The big brown eyes
Alight with mischief
And with hope.

The windows to a soul
Beget from me
Yet all its own.

A gift I have gratefully received
And am still unwrapping.

My son.

Given to me to especially
Through grace.

9 thoughts on “In Honor of Autism Awareness and National Poetry Month

  1. Beautiful poem! My son also has some characteristics and not necessarily a firm diagnosis and you are right it is such a process of trial and error, research and discussion, joy and despair at times to navigate the process. He’s a cutie and took a great picture! Love those eyes!

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