April 24, 2017

Dear Future Daughter-in-law

Posted in AMT's Faves, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , at 10:31 am by autismmommytherapist

Dear Future Daughter-in-law,

For the record, I’m planning on still being around when my son marries you, but I was pretty damn old when I had him and I’m a “planner,” so just in case I thought I should write down a few things I had to say to you.

First of all, and I hope you know this already, you hit the jackpot.

I know, you’re probably thinking this is just the opinion of a loving mom, but honestly, you have. You see, since the age of ten our boy has been talking about getting married, settling down with his four or five kids (yup, hoping you two make some money,) and being totally devoted to the person he presently calls his “soul mate.”

Trust me, your man is not a player.

If you’re planning on walking down that long aisle with him I’m assuming there are some things about him that you already know. Clearly, he’s handsome (yes I’m biased,) intelligent, and funny. He loves technology and little kids (he begged me for a little sister but the store was closed.) He is passionate about everything he is interested in, and that includes you and your future progeny. He can’t cook but he cleans up after himself (you can thank me now.) He loves you fully and utterly, your perfections and your imperfections equally. Frankly, he is a catch.

He is also mildly autistic.

I don’t know if this has caused you any anxiety at all, but I think we should talk about it. When our boy was little he definitely struggled with his disorder. There were sleep issues (a gift to his entire family,) eating issues, and some anxiety about the world around him too. Just know that me and your future father-in-law and about a million other people worked our butts off to help alleviate these problems (yup, you can thank us again,) all of which eventually resolved themselves with time. With hard work on his part, and equally important, maturity, he evolved into the confident, kind, amazing adult that he is today.

He is still autistic. He’ll never “outgrow” it. And for him, it’s been a gift.

Honestly, if any other parents ever read this missive there may be some eye-rolling at my last statement, but it’s true. Granted, in his early years I needed a lot more chocolate (and wine) to get through the day sometimes, but the difficulties presented by his autism were more than outweighed by the abilities that came with it- that prodigious memory, his ease with reading at age three, and his unique world view which continues to surprise and delight those around him even now. I literally can’t separate him from his autism, and I wouldn’t want to try.

And I hope, if you love him as much as you say, you love all of him.

There’s a saying that when you get married you marry the family too (so true by the way, an aphorism right up there with “It is what it is” and “one day at a time,”) and I know you might be a little concerned about your brother-in-law, who is severely autistic. I want you to know that your man told me very clearly at age nine that while he loved his brother he didn’t want to take care of him when he grew up because he was a lot of work (yup, he’s perceptive too.) His father and I are planning on never having you two take care of him in-house. That said, I hope you’ll respect him and check up on him, and hopefully love him too. Because the truth is he is eminently loveable, and has been instrumental in teaching compassion and kindness to the father of your future children.

Yes, I know I’m laying it on thick here, but I really love this particular kid too.

You may also be worried about your kids being autistic, and I think we should talk about this too. They’re still figuring out the causes (I’m hoping if I make it to one hundred they’ll have it figured out, it’s a goal,) but genetics definitely plays a part. If you look at our boy’s family tree there’s enough quirky but bright individuals to lead me to believe that genetics is in play for this family, and I know this may concern you.

I know it concerned me when I was pregnant with your boy.

The truth is hon, while your chances of having a kid on the spectrum may be elevated, there’s a chance that even if he was in the “neurotypical crowd” you two would make an autistic kid anyway. The truth is life is full of surprises, twists and turns. Having two autistic kids was definitely not in my life plan (understatement,) but it happened, and your father-in-law and I handled it. I won’t lie to you. Some days, it sucked. There were times when they were young that we were literally hanging on hour to hour, wondering if things would ever get better, looking for help (hence the wine and chocolate.) Sometimes, if I’m being quite honest with you, our home life was brutal.

But the truth is, we got through the dark days, and both kids grew to be immeasurable easier, and so did our lives. I wouldn’t go back to those days for any amount of money (hell no!) but I will tell you they made us stronger, and made our marriage stronger too. Having autism in the house made me more compassionate, and definitely more patient (a struggle for me.)

And I promise you this. I will always be honest with you about autism, and anything else.

I want you to know if any of your kids are in the “autism club,” me and your father-in-law will be there by your side through everything. We will help you.

Maybe even more importantly, we will get it.

You two will not be alone.

I can’t tell you how happy I was when our boy told me he put a ring on your finger. You are kind, compassionate and loving, you “get” our boy, and most importantly, you make him deliriously happy.

Which makes me deliriously happy too.

We love you.

We’re thrilled you chose our boy to love.

Welcome to our family.


Follow me on Facebook at Autism Mommy-Therapist



  1. misifusa said,

    Great post! I think you said it all in a loving way!

  2. Mom said,

    Very sweet honey. Love you. Mom

  3. Shayne Winn said,

    Have you ever had a discussion with your younger son that he is Autisic? My son is also on the Spectrum. He knows that he is Special Education, but nothing else. I don’t like the label. I want him to surpass the label. Just curious on your opinion.

    • We waited until he asked, which he did at 6 and told him he has mild autism. We talked about it being a gift for him. Remember his older brother is severe so autism is everywhere chez McCafferty. I want him to know so he can be proud of it, but also convinced with us it’s genetic so he needs to know for his future. It’s a very personal decision with no rights or wrongs, good luck!

    • Jenn said,

      I have 3 on the spectrum, and we are open and honest with them about all of it, age appropriately of course. Mine are 7 and 4, but as they age we share more information with them about it. I also agree with the genetics connection, my husband has a son from a previous marriage that is also on the spectrum, and you can see many, many characteristics in my husband and his family.

      It is a personal decision between you and your family as to how it is handled in your life, but for me it had to be honesty. My kids deserve to know the truth, no matter how painful it may be, because in my opinion telling them a lie would be unfair, demeaning and lessen who they are.

  4. Beautiful, Kimberlee.

  5. diana ross said,

    such a heart felt article.. I could see my daughter writing this …. a few minor changes.. but it made me cry happy tears… I love my grandson so and there is nothing more special than one of these kids.. there love and compassion and there insight.. and wisdom.. any woman should be so wise to see this.. what a happy life they will have for sure…

  6. Absolutely loved this. You said everything I’ve ever thought. Thank you for your words!

  7. Hi, I am with eParent and I would love to talk to you further about your blog. We are a 45-year-old, award-winning publishing and communications company focused on the special needs community. Please send me an email if you are interested.

  8. caroldonnelly@yahoo.com said,

    I don’t know why but I was crying reading this. I’m so glad your son found someone he loves who loves him back. I’m not there yet, but I think I’m gonna be the same way when my sons (the older one is more high functioning than the other) find love.

    • He’s only ten so we still have to cross that hurdle, but his crush likes him back so I am encouraged! So glad this spoke to you and thanks for reading!

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