My son with autism turns 18 this fall. He should be about to begin his senior year of high school. That’s not happening. I was just thinking about what I was doing at his age. I spent the summer before my senior year at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. wearing camo and combat boots.
Early June 1993. I got on a plane for the first time and flew halfway across the country by myself. I remember the feelings of doubt in my gut as I wondered what the fuck I had gotten myself into, but there was excitement too, and I was pretty happy with the decision I had made. It was my first taste of freedom.
You spend a few days in a reception battalion before you go off to basic training. It was over a weekend and I can remember we actually got to go to a dance one of the last nights. Yeah. It’s not your dad’s boot camp. I met a guy named Greg. He was my two hour long crush for the evening. Later I went on to name my rifle after him.
I had a lot of fun there. I know that is not the point, but I am weird. I loved the camping. I loved the smell of musty canvas tents. I loved playing in the dirt. I loved field chow. I loved the friends. I loved the crazy drill sergeants. I loved the firing range. I loved the smell of gun powder –the only downside of the range was from being right handed, but left eye dominant. You have to lean over the rifle further. Hot spent brass goes down your shirt… into your bra. Just sayin’ –Yeah, I loved it all. Best summer camp, ever.
I still had one year of school to go, but I knew I was going to transfer to the Regular Army and was loving this new beginning. I suppose I cut all the crazy fun short by having a kid at age 21, but I was OK with that because I had lived a million lifetimes in those few short years between high school and parenthood. Great friends, great adventures, drama filled break-ups, hook-ups, parties, fights, love, hate, drunken shenanigans –shit… you name it, I did it. I loved every minute of it and wouldn’t trade a single minute of it.
Those moments helped make me who I am. For better or worse. My choices. Good ones. Bad ones. My life. It was mine to live or fuck up as I saw fit. My beautifully flawed, autonomous life.
My son? Oh, he’s still just pacing the house. Begging me to take him to the store to buy a big bottle of soda. Screaming when a computer program doesn’t work right. I KNOW he wants to be on his own, but he cannot. He will ask me to leave. He will ask if he can drive. I finally had to tell him one day, “Gavin, because of your autism and seizure history, you can never drive a car.” [For those who are not familiar with him, he is nowhere near high functioning. He is severely autistic. He doesn’t effectively communicate. His IQ tests very low. His brain was significantly damaged.]
He’ll never get a chance to fuck up big, to fail big. He’ll never get a chance to make decisions without me. He won’t get to learn as he goes –to mold himself into the adult person of his own choosing. He’ll never get a chance win big, to succeed big –to set a goal and prove himself even better than his wildest dreams. I am not saying there is no one in there –but his physical limitations prevent him from exploring his talents. One example, he is extremely musically talented –but his auditory PAIN AND SUFFERING prevent him from developing that talent. (I already know I am going to have people from the ND crowd telling me he CAN and I am selling my son short. But you don’t know MY son’s autism. Period. You don’t live in my house.)
He was robbed. Of his entire autonomous adult life.
He is a child inside, frozen in time. In the body of an adult man.
He won’t be meeting some girl named Kaitlyn at a battalion dance. He won’t be naming his rifle after her. He won’t be making new life-long friends. He won’t get to enjoy the smell of musty tents and gunpowder, or feel the burns from freshly ejected shell casings going down his shirt. No first kiss. No fist fights over a girl. No drunken night time water skiing on a boat with no lights 😉 No college. No high school diploma. No first car. No adult life.
Because Vaccines. Because Autism. Because people didn’t, and still can’t, see what we are doing to generations of children. Yes, I KNOW my son was genetically susceptible to vaccine damage, but that doesn’t make the vaccines less guilty.
We are killing our kids. Literally sometimes, figuratively other times. He was robbed.