I am on her last nerve.
Unfazed, I continue my questioning. Mothering a teenager, annoyance is my job.
I ask again who this mystery friend is and get a deep sigh because I should know these things, of course.
She is in my third hour, we were office assistants together and she is really nice and smiles a lot. You saw her at orientation, Mom. She wears pink all the time.
Because I forgot my crystal ball, her description leaves me with nothing.
I give up and continue our drive to the first birthday party she has been invited to since beginning high school. Whether I know the birthday girl or not, we are going.
Birthday invitations are few and far between when you have autism.
As we enter the party, my extremely excited daughter pulls me to the birthday girl and my heart overflows right there in the center of bowling lane 12.
Because most people would have said that her friend was the one who could not walk,
whose lips formed sounds instead of words,
and who travels with a nurse to adjust her feeding tube and oxygen settings.
But my daughter doesn’t see any of that.
She sees a friend who invited her to a birthday party, who gushes over her presents and sparkles with a smile in her eyes.
There are many things about autism that make life a struggle but this part…
the ability to see people for who they are and love them where they are at,
this part is perfect.
I think about this girl’s mother and I know, with certainty, this is what she wants most for her teenage daughter.
To be loved for who she is and not defined by a disability.
I know this, because this is all I could ever want for my own.
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I am gobsmacked by this post. It really caught my breath reading it. The struggles you face each day and the triumphs in little things, always inspire me. I’m sharing this with my readers, for sure.
Dude Mom says
Beautiful. It is one of the things I appreciate most in my son as well. His friends come in all shapes and sizes and he never judges by what is on the outside only what comes from their hearts.
Isn’t it the best? She’s always reminding me to see things differently.
This is soo very touching. Pat yourself on the back mama, for raising her to have such a beautiful heart. The world needs more people like your daughter 🙂
Thank you so much, I can’t take credit for all of it though, she seems to have been born with a view of the world like this.
sarah reinhart says
so beautiful Jessica. Thank you for sharing this story. It really brought a smile to me today. xo.
You are raising one beautiful child my friend.
I love her heart and I’ve never met her. The world deserves more open hearts and even wider eyes to see people as a whole. xoxo
I think about that all the time when she says things like this. Her brain is just not wired to see people on the surface, she actually never even describes people by their nationality. It’s so interesting how she sees people for solely how they act, I wish we all could do that. xo
I love her view of the world. Ashlyn and her mom are amazing! xo
With tears in my eyes, all I can say is this beautiful. Autism gets villified so easily, but there are blessings in to too. I love how you shared this side. Thank you
It does, I think so many people only see the meltdowns and difficult behaviors but there are so many things about these kids that are amazing.
This. Is beautiful. My four-year-old sees wonderful things about people that I do not see right away. Or that I do not see because I’m noticing other, less desirable things. I know she may outgrow that, though, by high school. And to hear this story is so touching, in so many ways.
I feel the same about my five year old, I know my days when she sees things innocently are numbered.
My son does not have autism but he’s three and still sees other children as “perfect.” I’m working hard on helping him retain as much of that as possible so he wants to invite all kinds of kids to his birthday parties.
Thank you for this. It was beautiful.
Suburban Snapshots says
As the mom of two children with autism, I know this is the truth. One time a little guy who was doing peer play with my son came home and told his mom that my son was his best friend. She was surprised, I’m sure, and asked why. “Because he doesn’t care that I still suck my thumb,” was the response. That’s right, he could care less. 🙂 Beautiful post!!!
Tracy Nevins says
My daughter will be in high school next year. This sounds so much like her, also. She has this love that is so pure and amazing. She teaches me daily… Love her… Oxox
It is great to be reminded of just how special they are isn\’t it?
Emily Cullen says
My child has just entered kindergarten and it has now become clear that I can call him a Special Needs Child. I am still adjusting to that, but I totally get you. My child still has two good friends from preschool and I am hoping that he will be able to make some good friends as he enters his formal schooling.
It is so maddening to me bc the school seems to get his bad side, he plays fine at parties and at play dates. I hope that kids will see that he can be a wonderful friend.
This made my heart feel full 🙂 Happy SITS day.
Beth (OMG! Yummy) says
Happy SITS day! Love this post. As the parent of a teenager with Asperger’s, I appreciate your reminder about how much clearer their lenses can often be than ours. Yet frequently, the rest of the world just doesn’t get it. My son is doing fantastic this year, but is currently struggling with one teacher and I find myself so impatient because after years of working with endless teachers, it’s so clear to me almost instantly who can see through his eyes and who simply cannot and will continue to insist that he see it their way or no way at all.
Thanks for sharing a great story.
Totally agree with you, it is tough but over time there are some teachers that I just give up on because, like you said, you learn that they either get it or don\’t. We have been so lucky to have an excellent teacher working with my daughter at her high school. She has been her best advocate and talks to most of the teachers before I have to. I remind her often how much I love her!!
Wow, what a completely awesome post! I love your daughter!
Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier, Photography Blog says
Beautifully written. I love the picture that you painted with words.
This is such an important lesson for all of us, even when looking at people who aren’t special-needs. We should all be blessed with the eyes of a child who sees only that which is truly important. Wonderful post, thank-you so much for sharing!
Your daughter sounds like an awesome person 🙂
Stopping by from SITS.
Beautiful. That is all.
I’m visiting from the SITS website, and I have to say that this is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read!! It brought tears to my eyes!! <3 I have a son who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (he is almost 8 years old), and I can see my son doing something like this when he's older. I understand about not receiving birthday party invitations – the only one he's ever received is when a pre-school classmate turned 4 years old. He loves everyone, but doesn't have any specific friends. These children who have been diagnosed with ASD have the biggest hearts, they are truly a gift!! Thank you for sharing this story!! 🙂
We do have a lot in common. It\’s amazing really, when I think of what my daughter has taught me. For all the difficult days, there are always great ones like this that remind me what an amazing person she is. Very true that people with ASD have the biggest heart, I just wish everyone could see it the way we have.
Marie Cole says
Your daughter said it right. 🙂 I hope they had fun celebrating her birthday!
Barbara Beyer-Albright says
I’m new here and late to read this post – but it’s beautiful. I just finished a book – The Kitchen Daughter – whose protagonist has Asperger’s Syndrom – and it was fascinating – besides being a great “food” read. Children, even those without special needs and when they’re young – see the world in a pure way. One of my sons didn’t see how poor we were when he was young. I was bugged, looking out a side window of our house then at the soggy couch and trash our next door neighbors left in their backyard – he stood next to me and commented, “Look Mommy – color clouds.” He saw the sunset and the beauty. I’ve never forgotten that.
Louise Ducote says
What a beautiful perspective: wears pink and smiles a lot. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring moment, and congratulations on your SITS day.
I’m just seeing this now. I want to say that if I am blessed to be a mommy, I hope that my child is as sweet and loving as Ashlyn. That is an amazing story.
Thank you so much Rachel.
Kristin @ What She Said says
I’m really late to the game here, but just wanted to tell you that this was a truly gorgeous post, Jessica. Very, very moving. You should submit it to BlogHer.
Maybe I will, thank you Kristin.
Every time I come here, I feel as though I always comment on how beautiful your writing is, or that I have goosebumps, or that you inspire me to be a better person…
But not today.
Even though I feel all of these things, I’m actually speechless. Your daughter is one amazing human being, and kudos to you for raising her to be one. Autistic or not, you play a huge role in that big heart of hers.
What an amazing compliment Charlotte, for once I just don\’t know what to say either. Thank you.
This is beautiful, Jessica and so are you and your teen. What a very proud moment for you!
So happy that more people will be able to read about your journey.
Thanks Tonya, I truly was so proud of her I could hardly stand it.
Natalie @MamaTrack says
Just stunning. I love her purity of spirit. What a gift it is.
It is such a great gift, to our whole family. I have definitely learned a lot from watching the world through her eyes.
Not a Perfect Mom says
wow Jessica…crying again…
I may have to stop reading your page!
okay, I can’t back that up…
Ashlyn is beautiful…
Oh no, I hope you come back! I know that you can relate though. We just want our kids seen for who they are. To get the kindness that they give out into the world.
Her heart is so very, very big. What a great view she has and we could all learn a lesson. That is really great that you were able to be a part of this book. I can’t wait to read it.
What a gift your family must have been to them. To have a place where you feel loved and accepted is priceless.
Lady Jennie says
This post makes my heart feel very full.
The moment made mine feel the same :).
That was so beautiful….what a proud mommy moment! Your daughter has accomplished what so many cannot. Thank you for sharing such a lovely slice of your day with us.
Was so happy to share it, I am always amazed when I get a chance to see things through her eyes.
Victoria KP says
What a lovely post. Your daughter sounds like she has a wonderful heart.
beautiful. we all should be able to see more like your daughter!
You’re a good mama and you’ve raised a beautiful teenager.
Thanks so much Alex.
That was the best thing I’ve read in like… forever.
Chills or gooseflesh or chickenskin or whatever you want to call it…I’ve got it.
Thank you, this means SO much coming from you and all of your talent, Tulpen.
Wow. This post is so beautifully written. Your daughter sounds like an amazing girl and you sound like such a proud mama! That’s so awesome! I have an older brother who had a massive head injury when he was 15 and he has struggled with his disabilities ever since. Most people see him as a disabled person, instead of an extremely smart guy who has some disabilities. It’s amazing how our life view can change when we get a new perspective through someone else. Knowing and loving my brother has helped me to be a much more compassionate person and I am able to look past what others may see as flaws and see the real person inside. It sounds like you and your daughter were blessed with the same gift. The day everyone stops judging each other is the day we will have peace in the world.
Couldn\’t agree more. I am so glad that all of my children have had the experience of being around people with special needs, I truly think it will make them better people. Just as it sounds that your brother\’s experience has done for you.
JDaniel4's Mom says
She is truly wonderful! I was just thinking about how easy it is to judge people without even knowing them. Your daughter has a special gift that helps her avoid this.
I am often amazed by it, I wish I could be as open minded and accepting as she is.
Oh, Jessica, what an awesome daughter you have!! You two are very lucky to have each other 🙂
I’m all teary eyed reading this. It was beautiful. My youngest is Autistic and has CP. I pray that she will find friends like your daughter who even though she to is Autistic she don’t see the other things. All she sees is her beautiful friend. Thank you so much for writing this.
So glad that it touched you, as your daughter grows I\’m sure she will find friends she can relate to just as my daughter has. Ashlyn is very involved in Special Olympics and has found a great group of friends there.
Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos says
I don’t have experience with autism, and have always been very grateful for this.
I do not know if it is autism, or the influence you have had on your oldest, but she is amazing and this story made me reach for the tissues. I wish everyone, myself included, had the magical filter to see people on the inside more than the out.
I am so glad the two girls found each other.
Thank you for sharing this, Jessica.
What an amazing gift, to be able to see people for who they are. Ashlyn is a truly special person. Be proud of her!
very proud 🙂
I love it! In all honesty it makes me look forward to what a great heart Carsyn is going to have. I hope Carsyn has friends like your daughter. You can learn so much from them. Love you Jess.
He will, I don\’t know what it is about these kids but they always have the most amazing hearts and people see them for it. Ashlyn is loved by so many of her peers and I think it is because she is truly nice to everyone. Love you too!
Sarah @ The Fence says
This made my heart feel happy. I LOVE stories like this! Thank you for sharing such a precious moment in your life with us… and for reminding us what is true. Seeing people… accepting people… as they are, is a HUGE gift!
Amy ~ Eat. Live. Laugh. Shop. says
Beautiful and so true! I wish all our eyes could enjoy that view forever!
BEYOND “so true.”
My boy doesn’t care if he has one green sock one blue sock.
he doesn’t care if he has a cool haircut.
He doesn’t care if it’s cool or not to sit and talk with your mom at a sandwich place.
He doesn’t care about what other people plan hours of distressing thoughts over.
He doesn’t care..except for his family, and how we are, and what we need.
I adore him.
Isn\’t it the best, my daughter has no problem holding my hand and would totally still sit on my lap if she wasn\’t bigger than me. I love the innocence that they keep.
This has probably been said 100 times, but I think we could all learn something from your daughter.
your daugther is the “BETTER VERSION of Each OF US” and whileI sit here and wipe tears away , I am reminded that seeing the inside of people is a lesson in humility and humanity.
also, so proud of your contribution to the book..yea!
I hope that each of us can be like your daugther more, to see the people in front of us for who they truly are. WOW.
I always strive to see things the way she does. It isn\’t always easy and she has no idea what a gift it is, to her and to everyone around her.
Woops, I typed my url in wrong, so I’m hitting submit again!
Oh, I loved this. My son has ADHD, and I often tell people that of our five kids, he is the sweetest, most beautiful and uncomplicated one. And I adore all four of them. I am eager to check out the book you are a contributor on. An anthology on parenting special needs kids that I am a part of is coming out soon (Easy to Love But Hard to Raise). So glad I clicked on your link!
Great to meet you. Amazing isn\’t it? That sometimes our most difficult kids are the ones with the sweetest hearts.
oh i love this. i love your daughter’s sweet heart and perspective. she and my daughter should get together sometime 🙂 If you read my post at Love that Max about my daughter’s perspective, it is similar.
I did read your post and our daughters would make a great pair. Wish we lived closer!
The Anecdotal Baby says
What a beautiful, touching story. If we could all follow your daughter’s example… Congratulations momma, you’ve done a wonderful job raising your daughter and you are so very blessed!
Dana K says
Jessica, this is beautiful. I read this and smiled because it is my greatest hope that my son will see people for who they are, for better or worse.
I can’t finish this without crying. Your daughter’s heart is so big, it makes up for the hearts of others that are so small.
I have been the aide for a girl like you described. Wheelchair, tubes, arms and legs that don’t work. And I know just how much it means to someone like that to be seen as just a friend. Not a friend with the trappings of disease.
Each and every time I read about your daughter, I am filled with joy.
Thank you Sherri, I truly was in awe that she did not see any of those things, just her sweet friend.
This made me cry. “Different” is not always so bad. You have raised a young lady with a gorgeous heart.
Congratulations on contributing to the book! I am glad to see your writing will touch more and more people 🙂
Minivan Mama says
Oh, I just love this!
Oh girl. You got me again. I should keep my tissues nearby when I come here.
Such a bright spot here, that she can see what is really important.
I seriously thought my heart was going to explode. Love these moments, when you forget about all the frustrations of raising a child with special needs and can see just how special they are.
So beautiful Jessica…I love our kids! Your essay is the closing essay of our book, because it is so uplifting and hopeful and such a great note to end it on.
It is? I am unbelievably honored. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of this Lynn.
Sue the Desperate Housemommy says
Yup. If only the rest of us could borrow this world view. What a blessing your oldest is.
breathtaking & beautiful.
julie gardner says
This is an amazing tribute to your daughter and also to the way you have raised her, Jessica.
We can all only hope to have our children see the world and its people this way.
I love this so much. Really.
As the mother to two middle-schoolers, I see so much judgment and negativity around my kids. All the time.
I just want everyone to see Jack and Karly for the beautiful people they are. And I know I’ve tried my best to instill those values in them.
I can only imagine the frustration of always being associated with/labeled by ONE piece of your puzzle…and I think it is a wonderful gift to instead see someone in her entirety.
Jessica this post is great as always and it made me cry. Honestly, I wish this for my own children and I fear for the cruelty of other children.
Christine Zorn says
That is awesome about the book! I can’t believe you were able to keep it quiet for so long!
Your daughter is really special, we should all have that ability.
Enjoyed your writing once again.
This is perfection. Oh, what a world it would be if we could ALL see people for their deep down souls and not what they appear to be on the outside. I love this. Thank you so much for sharing it.
love & light!
What an amazing post. What a truly amazing daughter and how amazing are you? Very. I am so touched and inspired by you and your daughter…thank you for sharing.
Oh Jessica..this made me sob with joy. So beautiful. So perfect. All of it.
By Word of Mouth Musings says
So lovely Jessica …
When my oldest was only two, we were at Gymboree and a little girl had a huge scar on her face and no child would go near her. We arrived late, and my oldest walked into the circle. She looked around to find somewhere to sit and she spotted the little girl. She stared, I willed her to sit. Then she walked over, lightly touched her face and kissed her scar, she looked her in her eyes and softly spoke ‘boo boo’ … I have never been more proud.
Kind and pure of heart – our girls are both that and more …
Oh my gosh, what a moment. That gave me chills. Don\’t you love when our children amaze us with their kindness?
You got me, Jessica. This one was really touching. I think hanging out with all you women is turning me into a big ball of emotions. I’m not used to this. How do you all handle these “feelings” 24/7?
Seriously, this was beautiful. I was totally thinking of John while reading this. He wouldn’t have mention the wheelchair either.
Well now you are just going to be a big softy like the rest of us. Welcome to the kleenex club :).
Amber Starr @ Love, Laugh, Live Well says
This post is wonderful and filled me with so much warmth. Your daughter is wise beyond most people her age and older. I hope she had a wonderful time.
Thanks so much Amber, I\’m very proud of the person she is becoming.
Galit Breen says
Beautiful post and GO YOU! I’m so very happy that even more people will get to read your beautiful words!
Thanks so much Galit, honored to be contributing.
Missy | The Literal Mom says
That was just beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a special moment.
Thanks for reading Missy.
I always love hearing about Ashlyn and this may be one of my favorite stories.
Thanks Leighann, it is the things like this that make me feel lucky to have the experience of being her mom.
Making It Work Mom says
Love this story. If only even teenager had only a smidgeon of this perspective on life. I hope she loved the party.
Congratulations on your book contribution
Wouldn\’t it be great if all teens saw each other this way? High school would be so much easier for all of them.
Thank you, was thrilled to be asked to contribute.
Varda (SquashedMom) says
Just beautiful. I know that my Jacob also sees the person inside, loves people for who, not what they are. And when I am able to see clearly (not stuck in the muck) I, too, value these lovely gifts of autism.
I know there are days that it is hard to see the good stuff Varda, lots of them. This is one of the gifts that I have always admired in our kids though.