Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – Dear Future

In Their Own Words – Dear Future

This “In Their Own Words” is by Stuart Duncan. His son Cameron has autism and was diagnosed at two and a half. Stuart lives in Toronto, Canada. Check out his Facebook and Twitter.

Dear Future,

I have to be honest, I don’t know you very well.  I don’t know if I can count on you or how reliable you’ll be. I’d like to think that you have only good intentions and that you’ll only get better, but I’m not naive. I know that you’re just as uncertain as I am and quite frankly, that scares me.

You see, my child has autism and as such, the past has presented me with a lot of fears as well as challenges that I’ve had to learn to overcome. I’ve also had to learn how to teach my child to overcome them. The past tends to remind me of those that turned their backs on us, had nothing left to help us with, gave us a lot more questions than answers and basically dropped a bomb on us before leaving us to the cold. To put it mildly, the past has not been too kind to my family. I’d much rather forget the past and move on, which is where you come in.

Dear future, I’m coming to you with an open mind. I know you’re not perfect and that there is already a lot of demand being placed on you. But I have to make you understand that I have a lot riding on you as well. I need you to be kind and compassionate. More so, I need you to have a lot of understanding and to be very accepting.

You see, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be around to take care of my child. And my child needs me so very much. Autism has made my child and I feel very alone in this world. We are looking to you to pick up where I will eventually leave off. I will be depending on you to be there for my child when I no longer can be and I’ll be depending on you to be bright and loving.

I am doing the best that I can now to prepare my child for you, but that’s a daunting task for the best of us. Since my child has autism, it’s just so very much harder. My child needs more guidance, more support, more understanding and more acceptance. The present provides some of these things and it has been helpful. But if I wasn’t here, it wouldn’t be enough.

The present is very nice and friendly but to be honest, I feel like I’m in a dentist’s waiting room and the present is the receptionist. I’m asked a lot of questions to which I answer, but have no idea what any of it means. I’m made to feel welcome with some magazine articles to read and the present even makes some small talk that resembles information sharing. But again, gives me no real answers.

For what seems like forever, I sit and stare at the present while they are constantly writing things down, filing things and taking phone calls from everyone and no one, while I sit there trying to keep my child calm. We’re waiting for you… the future.

Dear future, I’m going to need for you to be prepared. I need for you to do more than just wait until I get to you. The past gave me an awful lot of questions for which the present had no answers to. I will be needing you to provide those answers.

I can’t imagine what life will be like for my child if you don’t have those answers. Answers such as where my child will live, and with whom. Will my child job have a job waiting? Will there be better medications and treatments available that offer more consistent results? Will there be love waiting for my child with the possibilities of a family as well?

I have no one else. You’re it. I’m sending you my child whether you like it or not… for better or worse. Dear future, if you’re not ready for that, please do whatever it is you have to do to be ready. My name will be called soon and my child will be needing you. So I’m needing you right now. Please be ready.

“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. December 16, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Mr. Duncan, Ur son Cameron is lucky 2 hav U 4 hia parent! Ur letter 2 Future shows Ur intelligence, kindness, patience, understanding & compassion in a beautiful way!! R U a writer? Of course, I CAN discern Ur fears 4 Cameron’s future w/ in Ur words, 2, but Ur preparation 4 Future WILL certainly make Future kinder & gentler, yet strong & 4giving enuf 2 wrap Cameron in its arms & giv him the life ANY father can B PROUD 2 leave his son 2 ENJOY!!! TY 4 Ur loving concern 4 Cameron & Future: THEY WILL B QUITE THE COOMBO, THANKS 2 Y!!!!

  2. December 16, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    This is an awesome post that really captures the anxiety that all of us parents with kids on the spectrum feel with regard to our children’s future. We’re not just sitting around here in this waiting room twiddling our thumbs and waiting for the future to arrive…we are working our butts off in the here and now and hopefully that will pay off in the future of which you write.

  3. December 16, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    This is fantastic Stuart, good work!!

  4. December 16, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    As usual, great job Stuart. Since my son is now 13, I guess I am sort of in the future. For my family, as time goes on, our anxiety about the future seems to fade. Sure we still have worries but we have already lived through a lot of “what ifs” coming true and we survived. We know we will deal with the others as they come up. In the meantime, we try to stay in the day.

  5. Danielle Koenig
    December 17, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Our son was just diagnosed with Autism in October, he’s 4 and a half…This letter is very moving for me…You described this perfectly…All the struggle of the past, I too hope stays in the past, while I look towards the future with blind hope that tomorrow is a better day full of hope and love and understanding for my son…I wish you and your family a Very Merry Christmas…
    Danielle K.

  6. Ellenora Hurt
    December 17, 2010 at 9:08 am

    You’re absolutely right none of us knows how much time we have left on this earth.And what will happen to our children.Will they be able to survive without us or will someone take advantage or misuse them.I always have this fear in the back of my head.So i try to make my son as independent as possible.Their future is uncertain.A lot of parents have this same fear.That’s why it’s important for us to do what we can while we have an opportunity to do so.The article was wonderful you touched on many things a lot of parents feel.

  7. December 17, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Wow! Tear jerking and bittersweet.You expressed on behalf of many of us parents,so deeply the fear we feel for our children.I’m speechless…Thank You for sharing.

  8. Tina
    December 17, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Very well written, and oh so true.

  9. December 17, 2010 at 9:29 am


    I loved your letter. You pretty much nailed it.

    My son with PDD-NOS is now 8. His compassionate and perceptive sister is 10. They will be part of your child’s future. I hope they will meet one day, because I could promise, together with my kids, they would help build the sort of community we’d wish for them.

    But I understand your fears. Even as I try to offer the understanding and compassion to others that I wish to demand for my children, I’ve realized the pitfalls one can encounter doing this sort of thing. Believe it or not, being a friend to someone in need can be social suicide in some parts of the country. And we all know how hard finding yourself outside that big warm embrace can be. It would be hard to commit to, offering understanding if it means you too will be left out in the cold. And so, unfortunately, if feel there are plenty of those who understand but fear reaching out and sharing the compassion they feel.

    How did we get so bad? I honestly feel today’s demagogues are doing us this huge disservice, by fueling anger and supporting divisiveness bashed upon rash assumptions. Tapping into emotions without involving reason. I have hope that our current political malaise doesn’t take a firm hold and become even more pervasive. But, if I can fight anything to build a future for my children, it is to fight this and every act of intolerance.

    Best to you and your family, now and in the future.

  10. Christina
    December 17, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Thank you for writing this incredible piece.

  11. C.L. Reaser
    December 17, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Thank you so much for writing this. My son just turned 4, and we are becoming more and more aware of the reality of the future – as we try to live in the moment and love each and every day. This article meant a lot to me, to know what I’m feeling is understood and shared – although I wouldn’t wish this struggle on any child. Thank you so much.

  12. Fawn Ellis
    December 17, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Thank you for putting this out there. This is how I and many others feel but we have no clue how to say it.

  13. Michele
    December 17, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Stuart, I share your fears as I am the mother of a teenage daughter with Asperger’s. I think about the future a lot. Will she be able to maintain her own household without my help? Will she be able to hold down a job? How can employers overlook her behavior? Will she find someone to love her and with whom she can share her life?

    But lately I’ve also been worried about the present. How can I continue to teach her life’s lessons that others intuitively learn when I get so frustrated with her behavior? She IS a teenage girl afterall, and there is enough drama surrounding that without throwing in Asperger’s. Will I be able to continue to hold on?

  14. Andrea
    December 17, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Thank you for sharing this incredibly moving piece with us. It brought tears to my eyes reading it. It was well written and so touching. I have a 3yr old beautiful son with austism, and it scares me to death what his future holds when I’m gone. God bless you and your family.

  15. Lynn
    December 17, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Thank you this wonderful letter. This is what I feel everyday as a single mom to a child with autism.

  16. dale
    December 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Being a parent of a child that is Autistic is a challenging, yet rewarding thing that we as parents can never explain to anyone else but to one another. We have learned to see things as no one else sees. We have learned to understand how the world works. Sometimes,or many times, it is a cruel world. We have learned what being a true parent is about. It goes beyond the first kiss. It goes to the first time in class. The first step. The first words. It goes to when he is having a meltdown, can use our code word, “Buddy”, and he can come out of it by repeating it back to me. Be a parent of an Autistic child makes us a advocate for all children. I promise, my son’s school know me on a first name basis. The future is in question. All we can do is do our best and encourage our children to do their best. That is what I will do. I will always be proud of my son, no matter what. Stuart, keep up the good work.


  17. Jennifer Dauer
    December 17, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you for putting into words what most of us feel. I am terrified of the future and hope to live an extremely long life so I can support our now 10 year old son. I don’t want him to be left in the cold and pray every day that he will be taken care of.

  18. june francis
    December 17, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Group homes, when properly funded and staffed seem to me to be the best answer for our older children, mine is 59. Letters and calls to our Representatives and Senators help bring this heartbreaking situation to their attention. I am in my 84th year and know that sooner or later I will have to leave this earth. My only consolation is that he is in a group home and receiving good care.

    June Francis

    • Carlos Gomez
      December 19, 2010 at 3:30 pm

      Your comments give me a good source to explore the possibility to bring some care of releif to my dear son and dougther they both have childs with autistm and the thinking about their future is alway a topic of fear , dear Lady if your son is 59 please if you can share some of the strugle you have in the early years when he need really someone to take care of him ,are this group homes really help for us .
      We live in california .
      Carlos , “BEN’, Noel .

  19. Shanith
    December 18, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Mother of 15 yo Asperger’s son. The future is what wakes me up at night worrying. I will save this moving letter into my journal. Thank you.

  20. Elizabeth
    December 21, 2010 at 9:58 am

    I totally undertstand. Is like I wrote it myself. My son is in need of a good and kind future too. Wish us well. I wish it to you.

  21. Laura
    December 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    My son is 23 and has Asperger’s. He is now in one of only two centers for intensive treatment in my state run by the state division of mental retardation and developmental disabilities. It is a wonderful facility and just what he needs. However, there are only 60 rooms at this facility and only the two facilities for the entire state at this level of treatment. Sadly, the only way he got in was that we had a major crisis where he became very upset, attacked my husband and was arrested. He is so much better in this treatment program and his placement there was the silver lining to the event. It is a tragedy that we do not have adequate services for these kids as they age and become adults. All of us need to work to advocate for appropriate group homes and day treatment centers as all of these beautiful children age.

  22. January 3, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I have to say there are so many future things I just can’t look at. Sometimes it feels as though we can hardly get through the present that the daunting task of even considering the future is quite frankly frightening. But here this is, this writing of yours Stuart that stops my breath and makes me think…and still, I’m frightened.

    Beautifully written.

  23. Jen
    January 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Really wonderful post. I make the mistake of thinking to far into the future, spending too much time worrying about things we cannot know. With a 3yo, I’m still learning to live in the present, make the best of every day, and have faith that the work we’re doing will pay off.

  24. Mary macias-cox
    February 28, 2011 at 9:48 am

    This letter could not have come at a better time because i too am dealing with Mr. Future. I thought Mr. Future and I were doing very well at building a relationship and moving forward with amazing results. One day you wake up and realize that the future does not run like clock work and that adjustments have to be made. Those adjustments and the frustrations take you back to those feelings of fear and helplessness. It is then that you reach out and find outlets of information and understanding to refuel the tank so that one can continue to walk the journey with Mr. Future. After the new setbacks that my son’s autism has presented my family with your letter Mr. Duncan has given me the fuel I need to keep advocating and moving forward. It also let me know that I am not the only one on this journey. Thank you for such a beautifully written letter and the hope you inspire to all you are lucky to read your letter to Mr. Future. Blessings!

  1. December 19, 2010 at 5:47 am
  2. January 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm
  3. January 30, 2011 at 10:57 am
  4. February 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm
  5. July 12, 2011 at 1:44 am

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