I wrote this last summer, before I had a blog!

As I sit here in the bleachers watching my daughter graduate from college, my mind drifts back four years ago to the day I dropped her off. We sat there in my truck, both of us crying.

"Daddy, I don't think I can do this," she said, and my heart broke because I knew she had to try. I remember her walking away from me, arms wrapped around her chest as though she was holding herself in.

But try she did; four years that ended up as some of the happiest of her life. Today her smile lights the entire stadium as she walks off that stage, diploma in hand . . . her future in hand, as the doors to that future open before her.

I turn to my son. He is crying. He is crying because the doors to his future are closed, and many of them are locked.

"I wish I didn't have this stupid autism," he says, and my heart breaks yet again.

My son dreams of teaching math. He would be an amazing math teacher, but universities aren't ready for someone like him. In many ways, a university is a world of hoops, and everyone must jump through those hoops in the same way. People like my son walk a different path, and find different ways to jump through those hoops, or better yet, they find their own way around them. Sadly, the very thing that makes them unique and wonderful is the thing that sometimes holds them back.

We as a society need to be talking about this. One out of every forth-five children will be diagnosed with autism. These kids have a unique way of being in this world. My son is the most open, caring, non-judgmental person I know. Think of all the wars, the hatred, caused by people judging one another. We need people like my son in this world, and we need them in positions where they can make a contribution to society.

And so here I sit, watching my beautiful daughter step through her door and into her future, while my son searches desperately for the key to his.  © Hank Smith 2016