Wednesday, May 4, 2011


My 9-year-old is sad. Actually, he is depressed, and it is breaking my heart.

He has been crying for a little while now, and after watching him and ruling out pain as a cause, the source is pretty clear. Medication he is taking to treat his agitation is working, yet it is also uncovering a depression that I imagine has been in him for some time.

He will stand in the middle of the room, and suddenly break out into tears, his little boy face twisted with woe as the sobs just keep coming and coming. He can't talk, and I am left to wonder what is the cause of his sadness.

Is he thinking that he wishes he could talk? Is he sad that he is different? Does he hate his life?

Does he wish he was never born?

A mother's instinct is to rush to her child when he is in pain and envelop him in her arms, yet I learned in his infancy that he did not want this from me. Some children with sensory disregulation register touch as painful, and while my son has gotten better at tolerating the touch of others over the years, he still really does not like it. He certainly doesn't enjoy hugs when he is overcome with emotion.

So, here I am, his mother, watching him cry out, and yet I can't hug him. I can't kiss him. I stand there feeling helpless.

Often I will find one of his blankies and push it toward him on the floor. And, then I will hover in the background, giving him his space to pace.

"Uh-oh!" I say. "You"re sad." Always, I add, "I'm so sorry. I wish I knew why."

I'm the kind of person who sees a problem and immediately fixes it. Such paltry efforts to ease my son's pains do not sit well with me. Nothing about this life requires an easy fix. And, so, I do what I've always done: chip away.

Sending love to your children from The Mom Cave today. Give them the hugs they deserve!


  1. Amy, there are tears coming down my cheeks as I type. Here is a hug for you, and for the book you must publish, because you have a talent for letting others know about this awful autism we all must handle. Keep writing!!! PLease!!!

  2. :,(

    My 8yo boy still gives me hugs and lets me touch him and I cherish every one of them because I know someday he won't want hugs from his Mom. I wish autism could be fixed. I just hate all of this for you and him

  3. Thank you both for reading. To think that my words can swerve as any kind of collective voice for the autism community is quite a compliment. Thank you.

    Cherish the hugs. I wish I could do that. Even when he was young and fell or hurt something, I couldn't pick him up and soothe. He would often tell us to leave because our instinct was to touch him in order to "help" but instead we were making it worse.

    I hope I don't make the depression worse. Poor baby...

  4. I know that I am not alone in saying that this entry was hard to definitely brought tears to my eyes. I think all parents can relate to this, be it through autisim or for any number of other reasons, we all will have a time when our children are hurting and we can't do anything to help. It is an overwhelming emotion to feel so helpless when you just can't make it 'all better' for them.

    Keep writing Amy! Your words have so much power. The entries about how autism effects a family are definitely eye-opening to many, but there is more to this story. It is one of how not to give up when the cards seem stacked against important friends to cherish what you have and not wallow in regret of what will never having a family means there really is no such thing as 'routine' our nerves,emotions and love can be tested no one has to go through this alone and that friends and family will always be there to offer humbling motherhood is...the list goes on.

    Your words are definitely a voice for autism, but they are also the voice of exceptional strength and the unconditional love a mother has for her children. I am proud and honored to call you my friend!

    Love you and miss you tons!

  5. *Blush*

    Thank you.

    And I think the Mom Cave has an official guest blogger in you! :) Well said.

  6. Just want to completely endorse everything that k above has said. You're writing goes beyond anything about your immediate situation - I always find so much in it x
    And hugs to you, sending them across the pond, for that feeling of not being able to comfort a child and wanting to so much - k is right there too, we all do/will have times like that, I definitely have, but your experience and your writing of it stand out as an incredibly stark illustration of that feeling.