Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – From a Mother’s Heart

In Their Own Words – From a Mother’s Heart

This “In Their Own Words” essay is written by Valerie Fuentes. Valerie has participated in the Pittsburgh Walk Now for Autism Speaks a a member of team “Hike for Mike” for eight years.

I feel broken … or I should say my heart feels broken. At times it feels heavy, too heavy to carry around on a daily basis. Other times it feels lonely, so lonely it hurts. Often my heart feels full: full of love, of happiness, of peace. Sometimes, it can feel cold and empty; or full of anger and sadness. At times, it is too much to bear. Too much …

I am a mother of a special needs son. Mikey is my blessing, and I am proud to be his mom. He gives me great joy and happiness, for he not only allows me to see the world through his eyes, but he teaches me about patience and acceptance. Mikey is by far more tolerant of this world than I am, for I see the world mistreat him and label him. He is completely misunderstood and, sad to say, feared.

I, on the other hand, am not as kind or as accepting of this world. Ignorance, cruelty and apathy abound, and this is the world Mikey lives in. As his mom, I love him unconditionally. But often, this is not enough. Unmistakably, it is a battle, a daily battle, to protect Mikey from the world. Nonetheless, it is my job to integrate him in this cruel world, and help him adjust, to fit in.  Yet all I want to do is hold him close to my heart, keep him from harm and hurt, to scream at all the ignorant people in life.

Mikey is has autism and is nonverbal, and the world is not willing to accept him. Often it is the lack of knowledge and awareness of this disorder that feeds the fear and the ignorance. Labels are easier to deal with, not the person. How unkind, harsh and merciless the world can be to anyone “different.” As his mom and his protector, I want to stop the hurt. As his voice, I feel obliged to educate, to end the ignorance, and to teach kindness and respect.

There are many positives about being a mom of a special needs child. The road is not an easy one, and you may often travel it alone. However, the journey will change your life. Watching Mikey live each moment to the fullest is indescribable. He has taught me how to embrace life, and how to take time to enjoy the little things. Mikey has touched many hearts, and he has changed many lives. Learning to see the world through his eyes has been an enriching experience. He has shown me how to deal with adversity, and how to put a smile on my face everyday. Most of all, I understand patience and empathy for the first time in my life.

Despite the many positives of being Mikey’s mom, I must admit I long to genuinely understand the world in which he exists. The world of autism is unconquered; it is a place where minds drift and voices fall silent. Sometimes I feel it is a dark and empty place; other times, I picture it as a parallel existence, a place where a higher intelligence dwells. Where does Mikey go? How can I reach him? It often feels like I am moving in slow motion, trying desperately to pull Mikey out of the water. He will drown if I do not make this daily attempt.

Learning about the world of autism is a journey, one which I embrace daily. Each and every day I pray for a miracle for my son, and every night I thank God for the day I spent with Mikey.

“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 editors@autismspeaks.org. 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.


  1. g-mags irvine-bowles
    July 11, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    written with love and commitment – that experience only a parent dealing with autism can express. as the grandmother of a 4 year old with autism i understand your every word as it is a journey my daughter faces with the help of her hubby and the older siblings but i do believe it is a journey only a mother can truly understand.

    i wish you peace and love on the road ahead but from your words, i know you will succeed and mikey will have a future filled with love and happiness and i know he will bring the rest of the world so much joy.

    i treasure everyday with our precious boy and thank GOD every night for bringing him to our lives as he teaches us all so very much.

  2. July 11, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Have you seen this? http://avoiceforneli.com/

    It was in today’s (Sunday, July 11,2010) Metro Section of the Washington Post.
    Please pass this along to help Neli’s family deal with trauma of mistaken police action against an autistic teen.

  3. Tawana
    July 11, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    I feel your pain, and struggles. I am a mother of a child with special needs and every word, I can relate to. It’s a never ending battle, but we must stay strong!

  4. July 12, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Very True I wish this could be printed out to everyone so that our children would be understood and loved the way they should be.BRAVO Valerine BRAVO!!!!

  5. Sandra K.
    July 12, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I absolutely LOVED reading this! and I FELT ALL OF IT!!!!!!! GOOD JOB, MOM!!!!!
    Every day I get to wake up and see my son’s beautiful face, I know that day will be another blessing from the Good Lord.

  6. July 12, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I too am on this emotional rollercoaster. I am the mother of an almost 4 year old daughter with autism. I get through each day by focusing only on that day and knowing with all my heart that God has a plan for her and for our family. She is so full of joy and wonder. She has a way of pulling me out of my moments of self pity and dispair with just a smile and a laugh. My life has been turned around because of this one small being that for some reason God has entrusted with me. I can honestly say she has taught me more in her first few years than I will probably ever teach her in her lifetime. God Bless all the mom’s,dad’s, and siblings out there who are on this journey with us every day! Love hard and stay strong!

  7. lilyrose
    September 6, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    You have made a powerful message here. As a mom of a child with autism, I really appreciate you.

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