This was submitted to us by Sonia Rivera, a parent of two children diagnosed with autism. To submit your story of Love & Autism, go here.

David was in third grade when he said to me, “Something must be wrong with me. It must be. Mom, every time when I think I am doing things right, they end up being wrong.” No matter how much I affirmed or prayed for him apparently it wasn’t changing that feeling because as a mother you want to remove that pain instantly, right?!

Then he started to compare himself with others and decided that he truly was doing things wrong. Because he compared himself with the world’s “correct and perfect standards,” he believed they must be right, and he must be wrong. Right? This was when guilt arose and remained stuck in his head for years—incompetence when “he compared with others,” shame “something must be wrong with me,” and guilt “I am doing everything wrong.”

There was a cloud over him wherever he went. He was in special class He was “mentally different.” According to the system report he had the profile to be labeled as less and wrong, not enough. However, I resisted and started writing in his heart a different report, but this one was signed by love, braveness, worthiness, acceptance, forgiveness, and resilience.

According to the experts, no matter how great his efforts are he won’t produce enough to be accepted as average and interesting, that when he produces too much of one specific topic he still will not be accepted.

David is 16 years old now and working extremely hard to get in to college. He is amazingly excited and thankful because he was given the opportunity to start a speech and debate club for the first time at his high school. Now he will be that bridge to those who didn’t believe their voices matter.

He resists against a shamed guilty feeling of incompetence, and the feeling of not being worthy enough, by standing up for his values and his identity. He embraces where he belongs. He belongs to his family and to the destiny God wrote for him. He said, “I believe that my value comes from who I belong to, and who owns me.” You can’t get to that place with intelligence levels, by achieving good grades, or by being seen in a prestige college, but you do get there by truly understanding what is temporary and what is permanent in life.

David said, “I have grown so much more by embracing my belonging than anything that this standardized world can offer me. I will resist, and I will be patient no matter how long it will take me. I will not give up. I believe that I have a destiny, dreams, and a purpose because I belong here!!”

As a mother, when you see that your children are struggling with so many deficiencies and challenges, you know the work will be exhausting, but nothing more incredible than serving them as a bridge to get them to their destiny. My daughter who is seven years old, also autistic, once told me, “Forgive your kids and forgive yourself.” She said, “Just talk to them, and if they don’t listen, talk to them again—but don’t hurt them.” She was giving me the tools that reflected, “Mom, be patient and kind with your words. Mom, reconcile with our identity.”

Now my son will be the bridge to those who shame, and those with “not enough mentality” will find silence in their souls. Today is theirs!

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