What my Special-needs Son CAN Do

ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder   SPD: Sensory-processing Disorder

Many with ASD also have SPD.  Welcome to the land of acronyms.

My four year-old son was diagnosed with ASD last February.  If you’re a parent of a child labeled with special needs, then you know what it’s like to agonize over what your child can’t do.  It becomes an obsession; you imagine a life full of dreams dashed.

For this very post, I had planned on writing about how Big C can’t play catch, even though his twenty-two month-old brother so desperately wants to play with him.  When Big C catches the ball (on the rare occasion he does), he just runs off with it.

But I never wrote that post.  Because I realized,

Who gives a shit?  

My son’s lack of desire or ability to play catch isn’t a deal-breaker to happiness.  He doesn’t care.  Why should I?

It got me thinking.  Instead of agonizing over my son’s struggles, what if I focused on his strengths?  This is such a more productive and positive way of thinking, it’s embarrassing to admit it took so long to consider it, but that’s what happens to us as parents when professionals start slapping labels on our children.  We get scared, we get defensive, we get deflated.

So for this post, I want to take a moment to celebrate what makes my oldest son truly special to me.  This is what Big C can do:

  • My son can experience life with an intensity many long for.  His moments of happiness are so amplified, he cannot help but literally shout, embrace, and jump for joy.
  • My son can persevere.  He gets angry and frustrated, but always presses on.  A month ago, he wanted to learn how to ice skate.  As he grew more frustrated, I became frustrated and wanted to stop, but he told me, “No, Mommy.  We can’t give up.  I have to do this!”
  • My son can melt my heart with his compliments.  I was trying a dress on recently and he said, “Oh Mommy, you look beautiful.  Just like a princess!”
  • My son can show true remorse.  Without fail, after a meltdown, he will come to me and say sorry.  Sometimes, it doesn’t come until the next day, but it always comes when he truly is sorry and ready to admit it.
  • My son can pay exquisite attention to a task he is truly interested in.  In recent months, he’s demonstrated his ability to play for hours with Legos, creating the most imaginative creatures, vehicles, and buildings.
  • My son can feel selfless love.  Whenever I catch him giving his younger brother a kiss or hug just because he’s overwhelmed with emotion for him at that moment, my eyes and my heart swell.
  • My son gets me.  Just this weekend, I had my own minor meltdown and went upstairs to cool down and take a break.  My son followed me upstairs and said, “Mommy, just take a deep breath.”  He then sat beside me and rested his head on my shoulder.  “It’ll be okay.”
  • My son can bring tears to my eyes.  If you could see me now, you’d know exactly what I mean.

Now, it’s your turn to share.  What can your amazing children do?  Let’s celebrate them here!

Note: this post is part of a blog hop. Click the link below to read more blogs about what it’s like to have a sensory-special kid!


This post also appears on Sammiches and Psych Meds.
A version of this post also appears on The Mighty. 


Published by Miranda Keskes

I am a freelance writer, editor, and tutor with fifteen years of high school teaching experience. Helping young adults craft their unique writer's voice is one of my passions. As the mother of a child with autism, I also feel compelled to share our story, connect with fellow parents, and raise awareness for a diagnosis that is still quite misunderstood. Learn more at my business site, KeskesInk.com, and my personal blog, MommyCatharsis.com.

21 thoughts on “What my Special-needs Son CAN Do

  1. Ah, Big C, you sound fantastic, lucky mummy!

    My 8 year old son (still awaiting ASC assessment) has just announced he wants to sew his sister a dress for her birthday. He’s worked it all out, it’s going to be assembled using rectangles and he’s already sewn a couple of rectangular blankets for toys out of some of my scrap fabric, so he knows he can do that. He’s basically designed a pinafore dress, his principles are sound.

    This statement slightly fills me with dread. It’s going to take lots of involvement on my part and lots of me trying to use my experience to let him know what will and won’t work and he’s not always good at receiving advice (he needs to understand it to believe it, but if it’s something he has no knowledge about, he doesn’t understand, so he gets frustrated). Not to mention how I’m going to find all the time to do this without his sister around.

    But mainly, it makes me smile. It’s such a nice thought, that he wants to make something for his sister, whom he knows likes dresses. It’s so ambitious. So selfless. So thoughtful. So well thought through. So uniquely him (how many other 8 year olds of any gender would have such an idea) How could I say no?


    1. Wow, that is incredible! What a special little guy? Admittedly, it does sound like a lot of hard work and stress are coming your way, but when he finishes that dress, it will be totally worth it. I would love to see pics of it when he’s done!


  2. LOVELY!
    I want to share that my son CAN catch a ball! He learned when he was, ohhh, around ten. The way he learned was that someone BOUNCED it to him, again and again. Now he’s 13 and thinking about joining the basketball team?!


  3. You brought tears to my eyes, too. Wonderful post. It’s easy to focus on what’s wrong with our kids (and ourselves!). Celebrating what they CAN do is harder, but it’s so worth it because…yup…still tears over here.


  4. Beautifully written, one day when I had a melt-down over a broken lamp my son came to me and offered me his piggy bank……they are really are special in a way that can’t be described, a true blessing.


  5. Love it! My older son can solve almost any computer problem (the school calls on him! LOL) and he also can CREATE any computer problem! HA! My younger can give any Foley guy a run for his money. He can recreate sounds impeccably. My older son also does this. They both can clear a building with their fire alarm imitation and my older son DID get all the 2nd graders to line up to come inside from break by his imitation of the teachers whistle! My younger son is also an amazing paper engineer and builder!


  6. Love this post! When we first started to realize our guy was on the sensory spectrum, we got that feeling – all the hopes dashed or plans changed. And then when he clearly fit SPD but was *just* below the threshold for ASD, we felt totally alone and confused. He was somewhere “in between” and what could we do with that?

    But now I see daily just what we CAN do. Our Rocket Boy gets so into whatever he is doing or learning – a tenacity that would make a bulldog proud. Seeing him jump into something with his whole heart is so encouraging. We are planning a trip soon to MN where we will make a second visit to a children’s museum. If you ever want a fun time, take a sensory seeker to a children’s museum! That goes in the CAN column!


    1. I totally know what you mean about feeling alone. Since Big C is on the edge of the spectrum, I also feel on the outskirts of both sides of the line.

      And you are SO right about children’s museums. I love taking both my boys!

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing! 😃


  7. What a great post! You are so right, who really does give a shit? My son too is the most remorseful little guy when he’s had a meltdown. He gives the best hugs and kisses. He can be so loving to his sister (when he’s not being mean). And recently, which has me super proud is he’s starting to finally tell us why he’s having meltdowns (it’s always after the fact and sometimes as simple as you made me mad…but it’s a step in the right direction)!


  8. This made me cry in such a real, heartfelt way because I related so acutely to each of your perfectly articulated words. About how natural it is to focus on the negative, the differences, why is everyone in the class writing except her???, the feeling of deflation, instead of focusing on these amazing qualities they show us time and again. Renewed in my desire to be the mom who accepts all of my daughter and doesn’t let what others think penetrate my psyche, who allows those sweet, sweet moments to wash away my worries more.

    Thank you, so much. There are a lot of parenting blogs, but your candor and humility and heart are unique.


    1. I want to take your comment, laminate it, and frame it! 🙂

      It’s just the fuel I needed to know writing about being a parent is worth it. It not only helps me maintain my sanity, but lets other moms know they’re definitely not alone!

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Brooke. I can tell you’re an awesome mom with an amazing daughter.

      Sending an air hug! 🙂


  9. I absolutely LOVE THIS. So many strengths our students have – SO MANY! and we (teachers) sadly are forced to focus on specific rote skills or strengths that the state deems as most important – which in reality are so NOT. Sigh. Keep these kinds of posts coming!


    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement! You’re absolutely right about teaching; the kinds of strengths my son has don’t always translate into the school setting. I feel thankful I am a teacher in the sense that I know what’s coming and can prepare my son (and myself) as much as possible. For example, I cannot imagine getting an IEP for my child and not truly understanding the process. It was scary enough doing it for my own son, and I’ve participated in my fair share of IEP meetings!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment! I need to make my way back over to your blog. It really is one of my faves! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. My son has a lot of sensory issues but he melts my heart too. I can relate to you he always pays me compliments and plays with my hair. He is so loving and kind.☺️ He has a passion and zeal for life. What advise do u have for meltdowns? We just learned about his sensory issues.


    1. Yes, the sensory issues can be stressful, but they provide a lot of joy as well! As for advice, I always hesitate as I struggle daily, but generally, I find if I can keep myself calm, then I can “weather the storm.” Keeping my calm is extremely difficult for me, as I struggle with strong emotions just like my son, but it does help. When possible, giving him space to be alone is helpful. There have been times where I’ve had to put him in his room and hold the door closed until he worked his emotions out. He would be throwing, and I was worried about him hurting his younger brother. Feels awful, but he eventually calms down. Probably my best advice though would be to use a visual schedule. I have been slacking on that and need to bring it back. Basically, when he knows what’s coming, most meltdowns can be avoided. I wish you the best of luck; you got this. 😉
      Thanks for reading, and sorry for my delay in response!


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