A Mother of Autism

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Last night as I lay down,
to put my boys to bed,
some powerful words
popped into my head.

I wrote them down
so I wouldn’t forget.
I couldn’t stop writing,
my hands would not let.

So much to say
but hard to explain,
the simultaneous
extreme love and pain.

If you have a child with autism,
you know what I mean.
So here starts my poem
about a hard routine . . .

The daily struggle
of putting on socks,
and a plain bagel,
no cream cheese, no lox.

Foods separate,
nothing can touch,
no hugs or kisses,
“Too tight, too much!”

“Not eating anymore!”
“It’s mushy!, It’s wet.”
Food thrown on the floor,
the broom, I’ll go get.

“Not comfy!” he’ll yell,
as he rips off his clothes;
“What’s that disgusting smell
right in my nose?”

Shoes thrown at the wall,
the fit wasn’t right,
to the floor he’ll fall
and scream with all his might.

Now we’ll be late,
the stress starts to build,
to rush he will hate,
he just wants to yield.

Overwhelmed by each task
and commands to comply,
he tries hard to mask
but he just wants to cry.

Finally, we make it
to the family event,
I’m one foot from him
but he doesn’t see where I went.

Scared and alone,
he looks around;
immediate hysteria
although I am found.

Pulling on my dress,
clinging to my legs,
feeling stress,
my son begs:

“Stay with me, Mommy,
don’t go.”
I hold him tightly
and love him so.

More party guests come;
it gets busy and loud.
He starts to feel glum,
it’s too large a crowd.

Covering his ears,
he panics a bit,
rocking and humming,
in the corner we sit.

He hides in the tent;
it’s safer in there;
the noise of others
is too much to bear.

Fixated, he’ll stim;
“Repeat” will start.
I can’t comfort him,
and that breaks my heart.

Now tender,
his skin is thin.
One small trigger,
the meltdowns begin.

Daddy picks him up,
he hates unwanted touch,
about to erupt,
it’s all just too much.

No way, no how;
stereotypy begins.
The sounds of a cow,
he kicks Daddy in the shin.

“Moooo,” he won’t look at me;
his eyes look up to the side.
He can’t focus, he can’t see . . .
he cannot abide.

Tears pour down,
his sweet little face.
Now, with a frown,
he no longer needs space.

He needs a “mama hug,”
I am there right away!
To the floor I drop,
and on me he’ll lay.

Some days, long cuddles;
other days a quick hug
but always on
his favorite soft rug.

“I am his voice
and he is my heart,”
it’s been this way
right from the start.

A mother of autism;
I have been picked,
to grow and raise
this most beautiful gift.

Chaya Rochel Leyton is the proud mother of two boys. Her passions are promoting autism acceptance, infertility awareness and empowerment for Jewish women. Originally from Los Angeles, she currently lives in Henderson, Nevada, with her family. 

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This article was featured in the Summer 2022 issue of Jewish Action.
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