The Acceptance Letter
By Kerima Cevik
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
One day, in case you ever feel like knowing more about how you light up our world, I am building a digital hope chest of words for you to read or hear. People say it doesn’t matter what I write. You won’t understand. Ever. But I believe in my heart when it is time to read or hear this, you will.
I know you are always here. I once watched a Youtube video named “Autism Took Mikey.” I never understood that video. Autism didn’t take you anymore than my dark skin made me something awful. It makes me different. Autism makes you different. Not less than anyone. Not more. Just different. I knew you were still with me. You just weren’t being acknowledged anymore. If you flapped your arms, it bothered people. When I said, “My toddler is autistic,” and people responded as if I just said that autism was a car that ran you over I wanted to slap them. They may think what they like. I see you. You are perfect to us. As you grow and your differences become more apparent, so does the fact that you are still the same exuberant, adventurous and happy person you were before the name autism came into our lives.
I never wanted to cure you. I understood you were different. I feel this difference that makes you unique will somehow also make you successful. The things you did that others found strange or quirky didn’t bother me. They endeared you to us. What drove us to seek answers was you couldn’t speak anymore. And you had no idea when you were in danger. That terrified me. I wanted to know what was causing you to not to speak. And why you stopped understanding when we called your name.
“I see you. You are perfect to us. As you grow and your differences become more apparent, so does the fact that you are still the same exuberant, adventurous and happy person you were before the name autism came into our lives.”
I was relieved when I learned you were autistic. We needed to understand what was going on. And the relief of hanging a label on all these challenges was great. I was still terrified that you wanted to walk toward moving buses. That you stopped answering to your name and your jaw didn’t seem strong enough for you to drink from a straw. But what mattered was that you were still here with us.You can overcome any challenge. You already have. I’m right here in your corner son. Always. We will fight for what you need to live a full life. As full a life as you can. And autism will not be an excuse. It will be a part of your identity.
I am proud of you. You are one of the bravest people I know. You will continue working tirelessly on any skill you want to master until you prevail. You are extremely patient with those who care for you. When you get frustrated it is because you’ve tried all avenues to communicate and are not getting through to us. I understand you enough to know I have a good son. A loving son. No mother could ask for more, Thank you for choosing me to help you overcome these challenges. It’s been an incredible adventure so far.
All my love,
Kerima Cevik is the mother of a non-speaking son with autism and legislative advocate in Maryland.