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

In Their Own Words – Be Still

This blog post is by Cheairs Graves, the mother of Dawson and Mae. Her son Dawson has autism and she shares her story on her blog ‘Redefining Typical.’

“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. Lily Lin
    April 15, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Beautiful in every way, thank you for writing this. My daughter is 9 and non verbal. All those little moments amount to so much love for our children.

  2. Masha
    April 15, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Reading this, was just like being with my own son. I felt and immagined your every emotion and cried… Thank you for sharing this, sometimes it feels, I am all alone in this, but reading this, I know I am not. Thank you!

    • eileen sullivan
      April 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      oh lily. so true. your daughter is amazing and beautiful i miss her!! xxx eileen

  3. DJ
    April 15, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing. My son is verbal, but I still feel that there are times that he is in his own little world. A world that I can not enter or understand. You totally made me realize that although I can’t enter his world I can be near him and let him know that I love him and enjoy those moments of physical connectedness.

  4. Tamara
    April 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I was sincerely moved. Thank you for sharing your most intimate moments with your son. There is such a bond between mother and child that even when people on the outside look in and can’t see it, we feel it, know it and relish in it. Our babies are our hearts.

  5. Dominic
    April 15, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Very thoughtful and inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing. My son, who also is autistic, teaches me every day that it’s the little things in life that are important. His lack of attention and focus reminds me that it is I who need to focus and be patient with him.

  6. Richelle
    April 15, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I have an 11 year old son with autism. He is high functioning, but, at 3 we did not know this.
    It does get better. Waiting and wondering is hard. I know.. I really know.
    Evan is now pre puberty and I can see things “ramping up” again.
    We will get through this too. It gets better.. these children are more aware than they can
    express with words..

    • Yomiko
      April 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      Richelle (and anyone else)…

      You say it gets better, do you know how long?

      I have an Asperger’s 11 year old daughter. She is my firstborn, so it makes things all the more challenging because I didn’t get to “break my teeth” into parenting with a non-challenging child. Right now she has hit an extremely difficult period and I’m at a loss for what to do. She’s becoming outright violent to her sister-

      Friday when she got angry she said “I should have killed her when I had the chance”

      Saturday when her sister apologized for accidently slamming her fingers in the dishwasher, she responded by punching her

      She begged to sit by her sister during kid’s church today and her sister allowed her to (I usually tell the staff they’re not allowed to sit together, since my youngest gets very few times where people don’t expect her to “watch” her sister and deal with her behavior). She then proceeded to spend almost half of the service punching her leg or hitting her upside the head until the staff stepped in and separated them.

      I’m at a loss for what do to. My only option anymore is to send her to a residential camp- but we already did that last summer when she got physically violent with her sister. How do I get her to understand that everyone gets angry, but that doesn’t excuse this behavior? She likes reading, I’ve gone over stories and she can discuss them with me, but come the “in the moment” time, this is what happens. I know it’s worsening due to the joys [hear the sarcasm?] of pre-pubescence, but I don’t think her sister should live her life in fear of what will be done with her if she doesn’t tiptoe around and keep her sister happy at all times!

  7. Lucy
    April 16, 2011 at 7:50 am

    How beautiful this story is……

  8. michelle
    April 16, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Beautiful and so true! It’s amazing the power just simply being there for our little ones!

  9. Addy
    April 17, 2011 at 11:09 am

    This is beautiful..thank you for sharing.

  10. janet messerschmidt
    April 17, 2011 at 11:11 am

    wow, thank you so much, i can totally relate to this, my son had severe autism. brought tears to my eyes. what a wonderful gift we have been given with these beautiful children!

  11. lydia
    April 17, 2011 at 11:18 am

    thank you for your story, now i can relate with my grandson

  12. Cecelia
    April 17, 2011 at 11:21 am

    How beautiful the words. My son is 11yrs old with high functioning autism. When he was 2 he was non-verbal. Now he talks all the time. They teach us as parents how to cope. When I am upset, he quote the lyric of the gospel song he listen to me Mom he say, ( Just stay in the back ground) Meaning you can’t change a thing, you can’t fix everything, it will all work out, say a prayer and move on. I love him for his wisdom.

  13. glennise grace
    April 17, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Just read the mother of Dawson’s blog. I had tears in my eyes and heart. My grandson is 17yrs old. He cannot enter our world so we have always entered his and to see him give that lopsided smile means everything to us, when we roll around the floor and act out the Three Stooges. We would not be without him he has taught us what love is and also humility.

  14. swatee borkar
    April 17, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Be still and know that I am with you!
    Heartrending and deeply thoughtful!

  15. Theresa
    April 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. I too broke into tears reading this. My son is also autistic and non-verbal. It is truly heartbreaking to feel like you are not doing the right things to help your child. I wish you & your son the best in your journey. :)

    April 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm


  17. shannon
    April 17, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Yes, I still have a non-verbal child, she is 22 years young:)…She has the entire spectrum of Autism plus more labels…I love her so much! She did the same thing back when she was little and I did the same as you did….I trained in many workshops, educated myself with all the worlds techniques, continue to educate myself about the brain…and have found she has taught me the most about living life to its fullest and what is really important in life…I feel we are blessed to have children like this in our lives…anything worth a great fortune or great meaning in your life is never easy but oh my goodness….what an amazing life it is! Keep cherising your children…even when they become adults and you will see!

  18. April 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I can’t begin to tell you how your words captured my every feeling and emotion towards my son. He is the brightest part of my every day and it is almost impossible to explain the feelings I have towards him to anyone that hasn’t lived or is living with a child or loved one affected by Autism. My heart breaks when I feel as if he has entered into his own world leaving me behind, but undying love causes me to follow his as far as I possibly can into his own land.

  19. Ashleigh
    April 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    You have put into words some of the floating thoughts in my mind that I haven’t quite gotten to say yet. Thank you for this.

  20. April 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    wow awesome writing..This autism seems like the NEW CRISIS in the USA it is everywhere…and we all have to learn how to cope what to see what to do…My grandson is now 2.5yrs and has been diagnosed on the spectrum…So far this last yr has been an ongoig learning experience….routine and being aware.

  21. April 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Beautifully written. Thank you

  22. Dia
    April 17, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    My heart breaks everytime my granddaughter turns away and seems to ignore me. When I get close to her she pushes me away. Sometimes she doesn’t but when she does I just feel so bad! She seems to be very bright but she isn’t talking yet. She’s 4 years old now and things haven’t changed too much. When I try to enter her world she sometimes lets me (for awhile). I just pray that things will change and she some day will be able to talk. She knows what she wants to say but just can’t say it!

  23. April 17, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing.

  24. April 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Beautiful and so well written!

  25. Kim
    April 18, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    The story was very inspirational, as well as beautiful. My son, Max, has moderate Autism, he is 5 years old, he is nonverbal, although he is starting to say a few words now, which is wonderful. I am waiting for the day when he can say ” Mommy” again,I know I will cry. He is my innocent little angel, sent from up above, and I love him with all my heart!

  26. Kristi Dederman
    April 18, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Thank you for your story. My son Adam has blessed so many….we got a call from one of his caregivers thanking us for bringing Adam into there lives, because he has changed them for the better. Adam is eleven and starting hitting himself…he is in a group home and doing very well. He is verbal. He never hurt anybody. I just wish the hurt would go alway that was inflicted upon us. I know like his twin sister said….I’ve got to be Strong!!!

  27. Jessica
    April 22, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Simply beautiful! I was very touched and appreciate you sharing your story. I have a son with autism who is 3 and has recently started spilling out words and numbers within the past month :o) its a miracle! Preschool has helped him so much. Still i understand that disconnect you described. But you are oh so right to want to just sit nearby and be a part of his surroundings. Keep doing it, those heart warming smiles and tightly squeezed hugs are the best rewards ever!

  28. liz
    June 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    liz…..u know i cried a lot when i’m reading this cause i can relate….i fell so sad i don’t know what to do..all he knows is mommy and mama…that’s all! he’s a sweet little boy and very handsome..he has ALL too in remission..

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: