What Is The Matter With Johnny?

My little boy, my little joy with whom I spend my time;
I always did love babies, but, see, this one? He is mine.
A small but perfect miracle set firm upon my lap;
The best sleep that I've ever had was when we two would nap.

And as he grew I thought I knew the man he would become;
He would be proud and say out loud, "See? This is where I'm from."
An astronaut, a senator – the best one, mind you that!
Doctor, artist, anything, and happy – even fat!

But some soft song said, "something's wrong – you'd better check it out"
I could not dream nor even glean just what this was about.
The doctor scratched his head and said, "he's just a little slow –
Don't worry now, unfurl your brow" and told us we could go.

And so I watched my son refuse affection from us all
He left his toys untouched and turned attention to the wall
Screaming in the restaurants and always drawing stares
Older women told him "STOP!" and offered me their glares.

I figured it all out by myself before they even said,
And then demanded a few tests to check his little head.
At three years old, not potty trained, and, oh yes – he was mute,
They finally diagnosed him and I thought "Boy, he's still cute!"

"No hope" they said. "No cure" and then "You really shouldn't try
To make him what he's not." And then I did sit down and cry.
I can't believe that they don't know the cause and not the cure
But told me he would never be quite normal – they were sure.

His sister three years younger is as smart as she can be.
"What's the matter with Johnny, Mom?" She asked when she was three.
We talked about his "specialness" she listened carefully
How Johnny was just different from her and even me.

She pouted, then looked up and said "Well, Mommy is it true –
That if I'm not a good girl I can get Autism too?"
I laughed and squeezed her tight and said "No way!" and she said "Good!"
She skipped to bed and then I hid my tears under my hood.

I always knew that I could do more than those crazy loons
Could ever think was possible in just as many moons.
He's talking now and has caught up his learning, I am told.
With teachers, doctors, and the like, I now am rather bold.

My son is whole – not less than you or any other man
And my son John, he did respond and shouted, "YES I CAN!"
He talks and toilets on his own and caught up in his school
He even has some friends now and they all think he is cool.

But when I think back to those days when no one gave us hope
And I had, yes, I think I did reach bottom of my rope
Thought of Meghan's question twisted just a little – see?
Not "what's the matter with Johnny," rather "what's the matter with me?"

You see, I had to fix myself and change my attitude
Before I really could do much to help this little dude.
I soon found out that "special" wasn't just a little word
I thought of as a euphemism each time that I heard

Realizing that his autism was a tragedy
I tried and tried to treat it as an opportunity.
Doctors shook their heads and sighed and thought that I was crazy
Strange, because I laughed and thought, My God – they're just plain lazy.

You see, my friends, God doesn't send his angels up on high
To anyone. No, he just gives them out to you and I.
It takes a special heart to open wide to this and say,
My Lord, I will accept this gift with patience, if I may?

And so we fight and love and pray our children get the best
We try and try, experiment, and, well, you know the rest.
You know the secret I will tell to everyone of you
It's not just them, but you, my friends – you all are special too!

Written by Georgia

For more emotionally moving autism poems click here.

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