The Things I Know

Close-up of Biggest's eyes - Things I know feature

Nearly one year ago, I sat in a cramped room with unpleasant, flickering lights, while a doctor I barely knew told me you were autistic.

The me sitting in that room is a half a million minutes away; a great gulf of time and experience separates us. I hardly know the path I took to get here – or how the schism that divides us became so clear. She cannot conceive of this future.  Her mind is overrun with fear, her heart crushed by panic; she can see no clear way ahead – no way that fear will ever lessen.

On the drive home from work, I often see primary children spilling out of school gates, collected by parents and child-minders. Their bright faces are animated as they desperately seek to share their days. They skip along, flapping their book wallets, eager to keep up with the adult strides that are so much larger than their own.

I do not know if you will ever race, breathless, from the school gates, bursting to tell me about your day. I do not know if you will bring home books for us to read together. I do not know, even, if you will be able go to the same kind of school as those children.

But I know those children had smiles on their faces, and if I see your smiles every day, then that will be enough.

On the high-street there are groups of teenage boys and girls, no more than fifteen, all carefully coiffured and preened, taking care to project an air of casual indifference. The boys are groomed and gelled – they throw occasional nervous glances in the girls’ direction. I remember those first flirtations and heartaches well.

On Facebook and twitter I see friends, and friends of friends, wish their sons and daughters good luck in their GCSEs – pictures of fresh-faced boys and girls, and comments about how proud they are, how quickly the time has passed, roll along my computer screen.

I do not know if you will ever gel your hair or flirt with a girl on the highstreet. I do not know if I will ever wish you luck for your GCSEs, or, even, if you will take them.

But I do know that every little thing you achieve will make me proud, that I will shout every triumph from the rooftops, however small, or however bitterly fought for – and that will be enough.

At school, the sixth formers are applying for university. I know they think long and hard about what they want to be, where they want to go. The prospect of being flung into an entirely independent world is heady – terrifying and wonderful at the same time. They tell me about the courses they want to study, the cities they want to live in. I cannot imagine how lonely their parents’ houses will feel, when they are gone.

Biggest looking out of window


I do not know if you will ever go to university. I do not know if I will ever wander into your childhood room and feel the bitter spike of longing that you are a man grown, and gone. I do not know, even, if you will be able to live on your own, leave home, seek your fortune.

But I know wherever you are, whatever your life brings, I will be there, in whatever way you need me to be – and that will be enough.

I think back to when I met your father. The thrill of realising I loved him, the things we have shared – staring up at the night sky full of stars on the road outside my parents’ house – the day I promised to love him forever and the way the lace of my wedding dress felt under my fingers – when we both looked down on your little face for the first time, and our lives changed forever.

I do not know if you will get married, kiss someone under the stars, have children of your own. I do not know if you will one day look into someone’s eyes and realise you love them. I do not know, even, if falling in love is something you will want, need.

But I do know I love you. Always, forever, to the depth and breadth of the ocean – whether you run from primary school, whether you sit exams, leave home, have children, fall in love.

And that, gorgeous boy, is enough.

You – will always be enough.

To read more about our autism journey, you may like ‘Autism? More like bad parenting.’

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61 thoughts on “The Things I Know

  1. Wow. A tear formed in my eye reading this. What a wonderful mother this boy has – you.

  2. Oh my life! This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. I’m crying my eyes out here. Such a heartfelt post and the love for your son shines through every word…I get these concerns all to well but all we can do is our best to guide them towards independence and in my experience, these amazing kids often surprise us with what they are capable of. Lovely post. X

    1. Thanks so much for such a kind and thoughtful comment. Though I didn’t want to make you cry! xx

  3. I thought this was absolutely beautiful. Mother can certainly relate to that sentiment of unconditional love. No matter what, she will love me forever. I think that is probably the most important thing that can be given to children and it will allow them to develop their self-esteem. Your son has a very lovely mummy x #bigpinklink

  4. ❤ floods of tears. really beautifully written and so full of emotion.

    so much focus is put on the “big” achievements, particularly on social media. but for your son, the “big” achievements will be different to most and it’s great that you will celebrate and shout about his milestones too. i loved your post about him working out how to take his shoes off. makes you realise even the seemingly small things can be massive to others. looking forward to hearing about all the progress he makes. 😄 xx

    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment and for continuing to read – though I didn’t mean to make you cry! Is this BC Xanthe?! xx

  5. So incredibly beautiful. The agony and absolute joy of love. Such a beautiful, powerful bond we share with our kids, full of fear and hope and ‘stuff’ I cannot put a title on. You made my heart flip for a bit with those beautiful words. Thank you. #bigpinklink

  6. wow! that totally touched me! beautiful! Such a lovely reminder that our children (no matter what) will always be prefect and wonderful to us! 🙂 #bigpinklink

  7. Oh gosh, you have such a way with words and I always love your posts. Another beautifully written post in which you share what a fine line it is between agony and joy when being a parent. Just lovely. #bigpinklink

  8. Oh gosh this made me cry, how utterly beautiful. We are still in limbo with Megan, waiting to be assessed by CAHMS in a years time, still wondering whether the things that make her different are simply her personality, or something more. I love this, your son is gorgeous and he is so lucky to have such an amazing mummy. #bigpinklink

  9. Wow. Just wow. With tears streaming down my face at your beautiful words, I have a glimpse into the utter agony this situation has bought you, yet your total joy at the ferocious love and protection you will always offer your son. He is so incredibly lucky to have you as his mummy and advocate, and I continue to wish you all the very best in this difficult journey, and for allowing us this heart wrenching look at what you’re facing. Xx

  10. I absolutely love your words. I have the same exact fears about my little guy, and it tears me up inside. Another one of my fears is making a wrong decision for him when it comes to therapy, his educationn, or anything that concerns him. Sometimes I feel so lost.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting. I feel lost a lot – but every day it gets a little easier. xx

  11. This is so beautiful and nice to hear. I often work with kids who have dealt with the autism spectrum and whose parents are not this kind and supportive. You will do a great job Im sure. He is so lucky to have a mom like you who will advocate for him. #bigpinklink

  12. This is a beautiful post. There’s so much unknown and that offers both wonderful and terrifying possibilities.

    The photos really bring home the words and feeling of looking out at the world and not knowing yet how you will fit it in it.


    1. Thank you so much. It’s really nice to have someone comment on the photos too! The not knowing has been the hardest part to adjust to. xx

  13. A lovely post as so many others have said. We have an appointment on Wednesday of next week to find the results of our son’s ADOS assessment. So reassuring to read blogs such as yours and find people going through the same thing.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting. Hearing from others reassures me too. I hope your appointment goes well next week. xx

  14. This is such a beautiful and heartfelt post – you brought a tear to my eye. Your love for your son came shining through and you’re absolutely right – as long they are happy and smiling that is what truly matters. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

  15. Ah I actually got goosebumps reading this it’s so beautiful and I’m sure with an amazing mum like you he will do you proud and thrive with you behind him #kcacols

  16. Thank you for your honesty 🙂 as a Primary teacher – reception, one of the children I will remember the most out of all my career was a child on the autistic spectrum – but I remember him for all the good reasons! #KCACOLS

  17. Pingback: Big Pink Link 16 - The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback
  18. Oh Danielle what a beautiful post. It is really nice to see all your feelings out there. I can imagine how hard must be for you to have all those thoughts about the uncertain of your son’s future. I’m sure he will be great what ever he manage to achieve in his life as he has this wonderful mother that will always be by his side. You are amazing! Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. I’m sorry I’m commenting so late this week. I hope you can join us again this week, 🙂 x

  19. I have goose bumps! Beautiful as always honey! The unknown really scares me, and is one of the heaviest weights on my shoulders so I totally relate. Thank you for joining me on #spectrumsunday I hope you come by again this wee xx

  20. You’re writing never fails to move me. There is a lot you can’t know, but you know the most important things – that you love your son, and that he is, and always will be, enough, exactly as he is!
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂

  21. This is wonderful read – really heartfelt! I’m a teacher and autistic children equally as fantastic all other children! Do not let anyone ever tell you otherwise!


  22. I can not even begin to tell you how much I relate to every word you have written. We first heard the A word from a Paediatrician on March 31st last year and when I think back to the mammoth journey we have gone through in that time its almost mind boggling. I think how far I have come in my grief and understanding let alone how much my 4.5 year old son has grown and developed and continues to do so. This year we have engaged every local service you can think of and have managed to get him into a wonderful special school for September. This Summer will be attempting potty training and new SALT targets and trying cheese (cheese! actual cheese! surely not!) as suggested by his dietician. Big baby steps. Thank you for literally writing down all the things I think and feel every moment of every day. The last line about your son always being enough no matter what is just wonderful. Here’s to a future full of discovery for us both. I wish you and your little boy all the best for this upcoming year xxxx

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I am so glad you are getting support and seeing that wonderful progress. It’s a steep learning curve for us all but there are so many joys as well as challenges. I wish you and your little boy all the best too. xxx

  23. What a beautiful post. I can imagine how difficult that day must have been for you last year and how the future must be a worry too but I love how you focus on the positives in this and what is important, with the reminder that this is enough. Your love for your son is so clear in every word you write. Beautiful post.

  24. We don’t know anything for any child really. People ask me if my son will ever live alone but how do I know?! Your post is beautiful, well written and very thought provoking. A x

  25. Judging by your posts/videos your son is luckily on the much higher functioning end of the spectrum. Blogging is your job and you clearly care deeply about your children but I cant help but find this post a little irritating. None of us know what the future holds for our children regardless of special needs. You recently wrote a blog about the amazing mainstream school you have found for your son then in this post say ‘I do not know, even, if you will be able go to the same kind of school as those children’ You are in the early stages of your journey with autism. Each journey it could be argued is different,perhaps, but one thing is certain it will be peppered with heartbreak and frustrations.Flirting with girls??

    1. This post was written a year ago. We did not know if he would attend mainstream school. We still don’t. Despite your assumptions, my son is complex. “At the higher functioning end” means nothing. He may never lead an independent life. Despite having language his other issues are severe. He needs full one to one support and mainstream school is a huge risk. It may be very obvious right away that he needs to move.

      I am not sure what your issue is with the flirting part. I imagine my children falling in love one day. That is not a trivial part of the human experience. It may be a part that my son never wants – but I appreciate my ideas of what life is are my own, not his.

      You seem to find my experiences annoying. I would suggest maybe my style is not for you and you should stop reading.

      Yes life is peppered with frustrations and heartaches. And you just made me feel bad for writing something that came straight from my heart.

      1. Sadly, there will always be negativity in this world. But I want to think the positive will overcome that. Although some days that seems impossible. The first time I read your blog, I boo hoo cried. Because I felt exactly the same way about my child. He is turning 7 in a few days and I am terrified​ what his future will be. I don’t think anybody’s struggles should be down played. Especially when it’s someone else’s child. No one knows the battles we’re facing. I wish you and your kiddo the best. Xoxox

  26. We were always going that our son could goto mainstream school but because he’s still non verbal we chose to send him to a Send school.

    That said, having seen what they offer we feel that it certainly will be better for him. That said, his future is unknown still, but at nearly 5; we have time to figure all that out

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