Note: This poem was adapted from an mother of a fifteen year old autistic nonverbal boy explaining his coming of age. While my experience was completely different, it was nonetheless as trying as just receiving the diagnosis of Aspergers almost two years prior and they along with those who were intended to help me were uncertain about the diagnosis, that would become ASD 1 in 2013. I would have to say that it was one of my hardest summers ever with being placed in the psychiatric hospital several times before ending the summer and spending the next 9 months in a residential placement that I resented my parents for a long time, but now I know it could have been Alot worse than what it seemed.

When he outgrew cute
The looks changed from compassion to concerned
Towards him
And towards those who supported him.
And sometimes disgust
Overshadowed concern
As he stubbornly clung to his ways.

When he outgrew cute
HeThe calls increased
Calls desperate for help
Desperate for summer options for a fifteen year old
Desperate for respite
Desperate for adaptive equipment
Desperate for anything that would assist a man child
Or anyone
And the voices were silent
Or they whispered –

When he outgrew cute
His movements were no longer celebrated
But instead feared
Violent head banging
Aggressive pulling
Dangerous optimism
With the strength of a man
And not that of a child.

When he outgrew cute
The damage began
Damage to walls
Damage to others
And damage to himself
And this damage
Wrecked havoc on more than just objects in his path.
It wrecked havoc on psyches as well.

When he outgrew cute
The walls caved in
And the house became a tomb
And the isolation suffocated those within
As they desperately yearned to belong
To something

When he outgrew cute
Milestones were no longer encouraged
And his future grew dim
And symptoms of PTSD set in
For those who we thought were supposed to support him
Rattled by his flashbacks and fears for years.

When he outgrew cute
Mood altering drugs were doled out like candy
One option after another
For him
And also –
Suggested for his caregivers.
Drugs to dull the pain
Drugs to pacify
Drugs to silence the demons

When he outgrew cute
His parents outgrew themselves
As every ounce of strength was poured into him
And they got lost in the daily grind
Lost in the sleepless nights
And invisible behind the never ending tasks

When he outgrew cute
They outgrew silence
And they raised her voices
To join the cacophony for change
And their battle cries rose –
A better tomorrow!
For him
And for those who loved him.
Because when he outgrew cute
He outgrew society
And that’s simply not an option.
For anyone.

When he outgrew cute
They found the strength to move forward
To move towards advocacy
And move towards hope.
They found the strength
To keep going
And keep growing
And they found the strength
To just keep living

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