Raising a child with autism can be emotionally draining on a parent, particularly when there is a communication delay involved. My son is four years old and almost never uses words practically. He has only used a handful of words in his lifetime and has never spoken in a complete sentence. He has never said "I love you" to me or his mother, never sings his favorite songs and never speaks of what he experiences in his own little world.

Despite the difficulty inherent in raising a child with autism I am convinced that any parent can find the love in his or her heart required to do such a task. Despite the language barriers a parent will also know that his or her love is not being cast into a vacuum but, rather, that love is returned and multiplied a hundred fold. My poem is a testimony of this truth.

I have chosen the traditional format of a Petrarchan Sonnet for this poem. A Petrarchan Sonnet has a rhyme scheme of (usually) abbaabba cdecde. The first eight lines present a problem or argument and the final six the resolution. Sonnets are often avoided by poets who may not find the strict structure to their liking. I hope, after your reading of my sonnet, you are in agreement with me that the rigid format of "My Autistic Son" in no way minimizes the impact of the message.

This poem originally was published in Poems on Life

My Autistic Son
Autistic shackles hold your little tongue
From telling me the punch line of the joke
That caused your fits of laughter to provoke
Excited happy tears. You've never sung
Your fav'rite Barney song and, when you clung
To me that winter night when you awoke
To bitter, fearful sobs, you never spoke
A word of what tormented one so young.
Although autistic shackles bind his speech,
His love is blazoned on his beaming smile.
Although I missed the punch line of that jest,
I laughed myself to happy tears. And each
Dark night when he awakes and fears defile
His sleep, in Daddy's arms he finds his rest.

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Visitor Comments (from the Voting form)
  • Tina
    I tutor autistic children. In your poem, I heard the love and pain that is so intertwined in a parent's daily life. Never has it been so beautifully put.
  • Tammy
    This was a good poem my nephew is autistic. He is now 7yrs old and still can not talk. He trys but nothing ever comes out. i wished i knew why children are born with that because they have life to live to.
  • Caren
    I also have a child that suffers from spina bifda and fluid in the brain as well as autisim. This poem touched me it made me laugh and cry It helped me see he and I are not alone. Thank you
  • aishath
    It's a reallly nice and a very touching poem. I really liked this poem. )
  • Gillian
    I, too, have a son with a severe mental disability and feel this poem from the bottom of my heart. The message of the parent being the sole comforter of the disabled child is so strong in this poem. superb!
  • Kim
    I seldom cry. I am not an overly emotional person. This poem brought tears rolling down my cheeks. It touched my heart in a most profound way. I can sympathize with all those parents who ache to get inside the mind of their cherished children. Thank you.
  • Crystal
    This was a great poem. I too, am the mother of a 10 year old Autistic son and I wouldn't trade it for the world! Times can be tough, but the good times make up for the tough times. Good Luck!
  • elyse
    As a single mother of an Autistic son, I have fought for him every day since he's been on this earth. It can be draining, that is certainly true. Sometimes I feel all alone in trying to do what is right for my son. Never let it be said, however, that I won't fight for him and love him with all that I have until I am no longer here. Your poem was beautiful, inspiring, and heartfelt. I know your struggle, pain, love, and laughter. I feel blessed to have been given my Autistic son. I was told that God knows who is special enough to love special children. As exhausting as it can be, I wouldn't trade my son for anything or anyone in the world!
  • Judith
    I may not be a parent yet ! But i was touch by the poem you wrote. I'm in SPED School and i know how it felt. God Bless
  • Mary
    I also have an autistic son and I have a friend who is the father of an autistic child. These are very "SPECIAL Children". Your poem certainlly touched my heart. Thank you.
  • susan
    I can relate to this poem as i to have an autistic son.
  • Tamara
    I too have a son that battles this, although my son is 8 years old now I can understand fully! This poem brought tears to my eyes! Although I can now have the pleasure of listening to my son while he speaks I remember the days when his tongue spoke not a word.
  • zachary
    I loved it, wow.
  • Mary
    We have two beautiful autistic grandsons. Only someone who has been through a night filled with "terrors", that a precious little one cannot communicate, could have penned such insight. May your son experience sweet peace at night, as we pray for sweet peace for our twins.
  • josie
    i loved it !
  • Morag
    Incredibly moving, this beautiful poem made me cry. As the mother of a non verbal autistic son you have described better than I ever could the highs and lows of our daily life. God bless you & your beautiful son.
  • Emma
    My son is 5yrs and has just been diagionised as autistic, although we had always thought he was, it still is a massive shock ( tears still running down my face for my lost child ) I read your poem its really rather beautiful and you Jim remind me of Zak's dad, so much love and protectiveness in your heart. I feel it must be even tougher for dad as every dad wants a son to boy things with. breaks my heart.
  • Rebecca
    Wow! What a great poem. I have 2 sons with autism. I know the mixed feelings parents who have children that have Autism go through. A lot of people say "I know what your going through, etc. " but the truth is they will never KNOW what us parents go through and how difficult it is. I can closely relate to your poem. Thanks
  • LANY
  • Kay
    Hi Jim I also have a son with autism,he is now 18 the struggle is long and hard but the joy you get with each small achievement is immense. Your poem brought tears to my eyes god bless you and your son.
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