Purpose, Hope & Joy: Confessions of an Autism Warrior Mom. Chapter 1: From Tuesday to Tuesday

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# Purpose. The three most important words in any language -- from Albanian to Zulu -- are Purpose, Hope, and Joy. Now some may feel that Love should be among the anointed in this list, but I would argue that Love contributes to and can result in any of these. Purpose, Hope, and Joy give meaning to the conundrum of life. You will see this as my blog unfolds. To the extent you can have any one of these at any given time, you are lucky. To have all three may be aspirational but well worth pursuing. And when it is achieved, penultimate.  As lyricist Anthony Drewe writes in the song Anything Can Happen from Mary Poppins, the Broadway musical, "If you reach for the stars, All you get are the stars...If you reach for the heavens, You get the stars thrown in."

Most of my blogs will be centered on our autistic son, Dusty, because, frankly, autism defines our life. It has for 15 years, since we first suspected something was amiss.  But this inaugural blog focuses on my other son, Dylan, who is 18. On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I dropped 5-year old Dylan off at his first day of Kindergarten at Trevor Day School in Manhattan shortly before the first plane struck. A defining moment in our nation's -- and the world's -- history.  And we were never quite the same after that day.

On Tuesday, June 17, 2014, Dylan graduated from Trevor Day School.  And soon he will be a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, embarking on a journey that, as he says, is 'bigger than himself'. 

I don't know if the seeds of his desire to serve were sewn on that tragic Tuesday in 2001, I only know that he has seemingly found his 'purpose', committing himself to the greater good.  Dylan has always shown a deep allegiance to and commitment to his brother, protecting him and helping him navigate through what must be a very challenging existence (we can only surmise, as Dusty cannot for the most part express what life is like for him on a day to day basis). When he was 8 years old, I asked him what we should do if we won the lottery. His answer, without hesitation, was 'Buy Dusty a new brain.' And one night when he was young, shortly after putting him to bed one night, he came out sobbing, "I can't do it. I can't do it." "What can't you do, Dylan?" I asked. "I won't be able to take care of Dusty after you guys are dead."  He was 9. He realized early on that he would need to one day be more than Dusty's big brother, but his guardian, his advocate, his friend, his bodyguard, and his defender. So Dylan has set himself up for a life of service, to both his brother and his country.  There is no greater purpose than that.


About the author


Katie Sweeney is entrepreneur and Autism Warrior Mom.

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