Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – Be Still

In Their Own Words – Be Still

Photo by Susan Frank Lowe

This “In Their Own Words” is written by Cheairs Frank Graves, a Charlottesville, Va. mother of two. Her son has autism.

“Be still and know that I am with you.”

These are words that I have heard in church and at Vespers during my days at summer camp, but it is my son with autism who is teaching me the meaning of these nine words.

“With you” is not exactly how I would describe my ongoing relationship with my son. There are days when he is present, laughing and smiling, and there are days when rolling on the floor and dropping marbles in front of his eyes are his activities of choice.  Words cannot describe the sadness I have felt when my son turns his back to me when I try to play with him or when he does not respond to his name. It is an empty feeling – a feeling of failure – and feelings of why.

But along this journey my son is teaching me. If I listen hard enough, he is screaming, “Enter my world!” when he turns his back to me.  If I sit next to him while he drops the marbles in front of his eyes, he might just look at me and smile.

“Be still and know that I am with you.”

If I lie on the carpet when he is rolling on the floor, he moves next to me.

“Be still and know that I am with you.”

If I sit next to him in the front yard, listening and repeating words back to  him – words that he is saying, then I can see his beautiful, blue eyes light up and his crooked smile appear.

“Be still and know that I am with you.”

If I am very still as he comes down the stairs in the morning, I can begin to smile at his ritual of closing off the bedroom and bathroom doors that lead into our room.

“Be still and know that I am with you.”

If I am present when he crawls into the bed and folds himself into the warm comforter, I can celebrate the little life that is lying next to me.

“Be still and know that I am with you.”

If I wrap my arms around him as he puts his head on my chest, I can hear him breathe. My sweet little boy.  My precious little boy.

Mommy, “Be still and know that I am with you.”

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.


  1. Melissa Perez
    July 29, 2010 at 10:23 am

    This is so beautiful. Finally, someone who truly sees the unseen. When people ask me what to describe my son, I tell them that Aaron is a beautiful voice than no one can hear. His eyes are his voice.

  2. Ginger Harvey
    July 29, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Very well said. I have felt what you are feeling. My son is 22 now. I realized the other day how much patience HE has with ME!!! Always celebrate the little things…..

  3. jo
    July 29, 2010 at 10:50 am

    This was beautiful! Thank you for sharing such painful and profound insights. You have touched this mama’s heart this morning and I am with you in spirit. Your son is lucky to have such a wise and loving woman guiding him through this life.

    Hugs to you
    and God Bless!

  4. Danielle
    July 29, 2010 at 10:53 am

    All I can say is…WOW! This hits home right after my son who is 7, had a very “off” day yesterday, with a lot of detachment, but that sweet little boy lives in my heart for sure! Thank you for this touching story!

  5. Katie
    July 29, 2010 at 11:20 am

    I’ll never hear those words in church the same way again – I will forever relate them to this post – beautiful, thank you!

  6. Krystle
    July 29, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Wow I found this story so very powerful for me and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for all the parents who write these wonderful posts. It really helps when you read a story and it lets you know your not alone or the only person feeling the feelings that arise thru day to day. But in the end it just reminds me exactly how beautiful and amazing my little girl is.

  7. Angela
    July 29, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I know how you feel I also feel this uncertainty of not just the future but day to day life with my son. Thanks for posting this it is a very beautiful insight.

  8. July 29, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    This reminds me of when my son was small, and all the things I/we did to try and be a part of his world and bring him into ours. The sweetness of it is so real and touching. Thanks

  9. Amy
    July 29, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    That was incredibly moving for me, even bringing me to tears.
    I work as part of an ABA in-home program with children with ASD, and I know the feeling of being shut out, but I could never fathom it from a parent’s perspective. I do see so many parents give up when that happens, but the fact that you refuse and instead join him, speaks volumes about your love and dedication.

  10. Melissa
    July 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! There are days where I feel like a complete failure also and don’t know what to do. This was very touching and so helpful!

  11. July 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    thank you so much for this post.

  12. Dina
    July 29, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    I’ve never heard that quote before, but it truly says it all. Thank you for sharing – you wrote exactly how I, and I’m sure others, feel every day. Thank you!

  13. Regina
    July 29, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Oh my that moved me to tears. yes I have several of those moments with my precious son. Thank you, that was very moving.

  14. dawn whalen
    July 29, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    This is beautiful. It is exactly how my husband and I feel when we have those moments with our daughter. Every one is precious and cherished. Thank you.

  15. Tracey Hedges
    July 29, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Thank you for a wonderful passage & description. Just to know that we all are not alone with our struggle, that we all have a common bond, a common goal, a common love, a common joy – makes some of the stormy days a little calmer. United we make a strong voice and advocate for our children!

  16. Tina Randle
    July 29, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    this is absolutely beautiful, simply powerful! this not only reminds me of the love and provision that god supplies but it speaks about the power of love. as i read the article it brought tears to my eyes because i have an autistic daughter and i went through a similar process. this writing is so profound and it just cofirms that they(the autistic community)are here with us all we have to do is be still and know, they will in their own way show us! in my opinion this should be publised on a national level, its a MASTERPIECE!

  17. Bronwyn
    July 30, 2010 at 2:51 am

    This is just so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Dan Mathews
    July 30, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Brilliant, Cheairs! Thanks for sharing….

    • Cheairs Gaves
      July 30, 2010 at 7:29 pm

      I am overwhelmed by the response to my writing. Thank you for letting me share this journey with you.

  19. Anna schoderbek
    July 30, 2010 at 11:12 am

    That was beautiful cheairs and very real to me like I was there with you. Thanks for sending my way.
    I’d love to talk sometime bout your son and mine and share experiences that might help one anothr

  20. Sarah
    July 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Knocked my breath away (while I wept). Thank you.

  21. Roger
    July 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    All I can muster to say at this moment…Thank you.

  22. Diane Tufts
    July 30, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    That was truly beautiful. Words that have always brought peace to me now have a whole new meaning. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m sharing this with friends, too.

  23. lindie
    July 30, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    This is actually one of my favorite verses and I have never thought of it like that. Thank you for your post it was wonderful and moving. It brings me a new perspective on everyday

  24. Stephanie Adrian
    August 1, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Excellent insight, and I will ponder this and share it, and perhaps write from your prospective as well… I love that you are speaking your heart in such a beautiful way. God is with you and with him… at every moment and God is good!

  25. Estrella
    August 6, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    I loved this story! It reminds me of my daughter. I am blessed w a child who loves to be hugged and kissed. She does have her bad days yet it’s when I am at my ropes end that she locks her gaze into mine and gives me the best gift ever….her smile. All the spoken I love yous will never add up to one of her smiling gazes or cuddling moments right befor bed. Autis is NEVER easy and although given lemons I have made the best lemonade I could. I love you kayla!

  26. Natalie
    August 7, 2010 at 3:55 am

    I loved your story. Also loved the photo. Thank you for sharing this.

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