This “In Their Own Words” post was written by Marcia Wiener of Scoth Plains, New Jersey. Her son Jonathan is on the autism spectrum.
Even though Jonathan is eight years old, this really feels like it’s Jonathan’s first Chanukah. In years past, he would go over to the menorah, blow out the candles, and sing “Happy Birthday.” He wasn’t interested in playing dreydel or eating chocolate Chanukah “gelt” (coins). We weren’t able to get his attention long enough to have him light one of the candles. Until this year, Jonathan wasn’t really interested in Chanukah.
But this year, something happened. We still don’t know exactly what it was.
Maybe it was the music. Jonathan has a beautiful voice, and he loves to sing all sorts of songs. This year, he learned the blessings for lighting the Chanukah candles in Hebrew school. And when he heard us start to sing the blessings at home, he immediately joined in.
Maybe it’s the dancing lights of the candles. This year he points to the menorah and says, “Chanukah.” Yesterday he lit his own candle for the first time. This year, he spins the dreydel and eats the Chanukah gelt and says, “Gelt”, “Chocolate”, “It’s delicious!”
When I was a child, looking at the flames and the beauty of the menorah and being with family meant Chanukah to me — more than the latkes, more than the presents. And I see Jonathan being moved in the same way.
This year, for the first time, I have the feeling that Jonathan is truly celebrating Chanukah with us. It speaks to him of family, of joy, and of home.
“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to email@example.com. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.