By: Joseph J. Mazzella

My two sons have Autism. It makes life difficult for them on even the best days. The condition is insidious. It hurts them and chains them in so many ways. Even though they are both full grown neither of them will ever be able to live on their own. Autism hampers their learning. It strangles their communication. It limits their interests. It traps them in their own minds. Autism makes them overly sensitive to touch and sounds. It binds them to their routines.

It makes any change feel like the end of the world. Autism causes obsessions and compulsions. It makes their moods rise and fall like a roller coaster. It causes them stress and makes it so hard for them to find peace. Autism fills them with fear and frustration. What I take for granted they never can. Life for them is one endless mountain to climb. Often daily living feels so painful and out of control for them that they even hurt themselves. Autism forces them to go through their days wearing a heavy veil that obscures their minds and limits their lives. My heart aches too, knowing that I cannot take this burden from them.

There are times every day, however, times that touch my heart, times that bring me such joy when my boys’ spirits push through the veil and I see their love and light shining bright. One of these times happened today after a morning full of difficulties. I was just starting dinner when I heard, “Daddy!” behind me and turned from the stove to see my youngest son smiling at me with his sparkling eyes. I stepped forward and gave him a hug. He laughed and rested his chin on my shoulder just as he had when he was a baby. Then I saw my oldest son walk into the room. He smiled too and said, “I love you, Dad.” He leaned his head forward and I kissed the top of it. I smiled back at him and said, “I love you too, son.” Then I held them both in my arms and thanked God again for giving them to me.

Seeing my two sons shine through the veil of Autism reminds me every day to do my best to shine as well. Every day I strive to follow my boys’ example. Every day I try to love more, to live better, and to bring some light into this often dark world. Every day I seek to help others to do the same.

My prayer for all of you is that you shine as well, that you love as well, and that you live a life that makes God and the angels smile. Let no challenge chain you then. Let no obstacle stop you. Let no veil obscure your light. Let nothing keep you from being the Child of God that you are called to be.

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