âFirst, itâs important to know that a story about autism
isnât a story about a single child.
It is a story about an entire family,â writes Glen Finland in her memoir
Next Stop. Itâs a love story, and not just about romantic love, but the
love of a family.
When an editor asked Finland to write a story about teaching
her adult son David (whom she calls âtall, dark, and autisticâ) how to ride the
metro in Washington, D.C., her first thought was, people would really want to
read that? Turns out, people do. Because her story isnât just about
autism or just about her son, but itâs a story that any parent can read to
learn about love and hope -- and you wonât want to put it down.
One minute Finland has you rolling with laughter (when she
tells the story of asking her son to take the wheel as she frantically takes
off her black socks so he can wear them for his job interview) and the next
minute your heart is breaking: âI
looked over at David and said, âDave, do you realize what a lucky guy you are
to have someone love you enough to go through what we just did today?â âYeah,â he said, pausing a beat in his
traffic watching. âWho?ââ
Finland writes, âIâm no expert, but I can tell you
this: If youâve met one autistic
person, then youâve met one autistic person.â Finland documents her sonâs quirks and peculiarities, from
his fascination with birds to the âtwo-foot ruleâ for personal space. And through each detail of each
anecdote, we feel her fear, sadness, frustration, hope, and above all else, her
She takes you on an emotional roller coaster, from feelings
of parental satisfaction (âDavid was near swooning with the cascading laughter
of a child, the universal sound that delights the human heart. It was the first time I had ever heard
him laugh out loud.â) to the realization of letting go: âHe is making up his own mind about
where he wants the train to take him.
Stop by stop.â Finland
remarks, âwhen that someone is your
someone and no one elseâs, your heart works overtime.â And ours are now, too.
Through her story, we begin to realize itâs not just about
one individual with autism, but itâs the universal truth that just as with any
parent, learning to let go and reclaim our lives is harder than we imagined.
Read more about Glen Finland here. Visit Glen online and on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo by Funky Tee