An autistic child
to his mother

My window to the world is
a fractured globe of glass turned
in upon itself –
through it I can sense other worlds
which sometimes thrill or threaten me,
but I have no words to share with you
just what it is I sense,
or what it is that threatens me.

But look into the mirror of my eyes to see yourself;
to see, perhaps, how I might perceive
wind-storms tossing trees against the blue of shredded sky:
to hear with me the creaming of the waves on
shingled, pearled beaches,
or smashing, gleaming foam high upon the torn and ragged
or secrets chattered by the creek to pebbles on its sandy bed-
a bird’s song,
the flash of butterfly, the hum of bees and
scent of roses.

If you hold me tightly, I shall struggle to be free –
I need to fly from deep within myself
like Icarus, to reach the sun and warm myself to
love and life and laughter,
but cannot.........

For I have no real sense of who I am – to me or you –
and can only mutely beg your love be always poured to me from
the well-spring of our grieving-
for we still are one.


© Caitlin Louise Thomas

“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*

I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.

Share your thoughts

* Gloria Steinem