“Daddy, I have a question.”

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Will with his therapist, best friend, co-conspirator Nadia
Will with his therapist, best friend, co-conspirator Nadia

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“Do you need a permit to own a ray gun?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“How do you clean soap?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“Should the roller-coaster I’m going to build in the backyard be wooden or steel?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“Do ducks and the other animals in zoos get paid? Cause it’s their job, you know…”

“Will? Mama and daddy are going out to dinner. Nadia’s in charge.”
Will: “Are you taking any electronics?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“Is Dora non-fiction?”
“No, Will.”
(2 minute pause)
“I think it’s historical fiction.”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“When are you and Mama going to have another child to play with Sarah so I can have some time to relax?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“Has there ever been a Man vs. Food at McDonald’s?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“When I’m a NASCAR driver, will they let me drive a McDonald’s food truck during the week?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“Have any of our ancestors found gold or been a successful miner?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“If badgers and skunks are cousins, who’s their grandpa?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“Why do people argue about whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“Were my ancestors allergic to milk?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“Am I symmetrical or asymmetrical?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“Who will decide what color lightsaber I get when I become a Jedi?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“How old do you have to be to get a jet pack?”

“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Yes, Will.”
“Do you think shrink rays are ever going to be real?”

“Daddy, what kind of club is club vogue?” (I’d like to thank the local strip club for deciding to include yard signs in their media mix.”

“Daddy, you should come speak to my class.”
“Will, what should I talk about?”
“I don’t know. Rachel’s mom talked about Hanukkah. Do you want to talk about Hanukkah?”

With our son on the autism spectrum, sometimes one plus one doesn’t just equal three, sometimes one plus one equals orange.

To get into Will’s head, you gotta get pretty far outside the box. Neptune far.

And as a parent of a child on the spectrum you can either let that incongruity eat you up, ruin your marriage and spend the rest of your life trying to “fix” your child.

Or you can learn to accept and admire your child and adapt your own life to let in this fascinating and awesome and, yes, even frustrating new frame-of-reference.

Will looks at the world differently. And he asks the most interesting questions with no hints of humor. He’s not bound by social norms and conventions and fears and, yes, this will prove problematic for him over the course of his life.

But it’s also beautiful.

Last night, he ate a marshmallow. The night before, he ate bacon.

Unless you have sensory issues and understand what that means, let me frame it for you by asking you to imagine that last night, you bowled a 300 game and the night before, you wrote a symphony.

Today’s World Autism Awareness Day.

I wish instead it was, as some rightly say, World Autism Acceptance Day.

With that in mind, I have two favors to ask of you today. Neither of them involves wearing a ribbon or changing your facebook profile picture.

1) Please consider recalibrating your idea of normal. People some label “weird” are typically the ones we rely upon to advance our world … and no one belongs in the margins.

2) Never stop asking interesting questions.

You know, daddy, in the beginning of kindergarten I had to go to the think spot a lot, but here by the end, I kinda had it figured out. Can we go home now?

PS -If you’re interested, I’ve written a few things about autism before.

PPS – If you’re a golfer, you might enjoy this story about the love Will and I share for the game.

PPPS – Here’s a copy of Will’s Rules For Golf mentioned in the above story.

PPPPS – If you really want to learn some interesting things about autism this month (warning – they may not be the heartwarming, made-for-tv hallmark moments that routinely travel the Internet), I suggest you subscribe to The Thinking Person’s Guide To Autism. It’s hands-down the best blog on the subject on the web.

Good advice? Please share. Thanks!
  • Clay Campbell

    Hi
    Thanks for posting Will’s Wonderful Wonderings.
    My 3 boys did not have autism but had strong tendencies to drugs and alcohol. That has made my wife and I stronger in our Faith and a closer loving marriage.
    But it did take some therapy.
    I believe all people need therapy – just on different subjects.
    It made my morning reading your post.
    May God bless for being a good Dad. He will I am sure of it.
    Mr C

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=721148293 Tim Miles

      Mr C –

      Thanks for writing. You continue to be one of my mentors and heroes as I grow to be a better Christian, father, and man. God bless you and Barbie.

  • Carrie Waller

    What an amazing child and what amazing parents he has! What is normal anyway? We can all learn from this. Embrace the people that are children are and not try to wrap them up the way we think they should appear. Will is one lucky guy to have a Mom and Dad that are letting him shine.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=721148293 Tim Miles

      Thanks, Carrie. As my friend Roy once asked, “Why is it that everybody wants their children to be normal but no one wants them to be average?” : )

  • http://www.facebook.com/carrie.b.schafer Carrie Burkett Schafer

    I have two beautiful boys who happen to have Autism. And I couldn’t aggree with you more.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=721148293 Tim Miles

      Carrie – wow! You must be, like, Popeye-strong. Warrior moms are some of the most amazing people on earth. Have a great week. Thanks for taking the time to write.

  • Phil Wrzesinski

    Okay, what does it say about me that I found all those questions to be legitimate and appropriate? Thanks for sharing and for letting us join in and learn from your journey. Your family is an inspiration!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=721148293 Tim Miles

      It says, quite simply, that you’re awesome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ronekstrand Ron Ekstrand

    Tim, just shared this post on TouchPoint’s facebook page. I loved it and loved the questions….they all seem logical and insightful to me.

    I also ordered your book: Good Company.

  • http://riverradiodigital.com Brandon Battles

    Tim,

    That was a wonderful list to read through. It sounds like your son, Will, is an amazing little boy with a bright future ahead of him.

    Thank you for taking time to share these stories with us. I often find myself here, reading your stories and blogs for motivation and inspiration. I appreciate the time that you and your team invest into creating such quality content.

    • https://plus.google.com/u/1/+TimMilesnCo?rel=author Tim Miles

      You’re very kind, Brandon, thank you… and I agree… he just may be the guy to crack cold fusion one day. :)

  • http://bornjustright.com Jen @ Born Just Right

    Tim, I love learning about and celebrating Will with you through your writing and ways you share your life. I often think about how far he’s gotten from his initial diagnosis. Thank you for sharing this celebration of his life and wonderfully quirky ways. (And as a parent of two kids with very different types of quirks, I have learned to celebrate all of it as well.)

    • https://plus.google.com/u/1/+TimMilesnCo?rel=author Tim Miles

      (High fiving you.)

      • https://plus.google.com/u/1/+TimMilesnCo?rel=author Tim Miles

        (And now bummed that “fiving” isn’t recognized by spellcheck… maybe it’s WordPress’ way of telling me to write with more active verbs and fewer gerunds.)