Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – If You Knew

In Their Own Words – If You Knew

This poem is by Lisa Madren, whose son has autism.

You do not know my child

But if you did, you’d regret the time spent that you did not know him

He is different

But that does not mean he is not a wonder to behold

Sometimes beauty lies behind what is considered “normal”

Sometimes the beauty of a special soul lies within an enigma

A pearl that lies imprisoned in a tough clam’s shell

A treasure that you must work hard to get at

To pry open

To find the jewel underneath

And once you saw that pearl, you would want to admire it

You would want to possess it

You would want to display it proudly

And you would wonder why you had not seen it underneath its shell before

And you might stop to observe the other previously unnoticed gems in the sea

You might discover that not all the coral must be red

Or all the fish must be golden

Or that all the seaweed must be green

To have value

To deserve friendship

To be capable of love

If you knew my child your vision would widen to see all the colors and possibilities

That lie within all of God’s creatures

If you knew my child

If you really knew my child.

“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. June 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Ms, Marden, BEAUTIFUL! TY 4 Sharing w/ us here!!

  2. Maria
    June 10, 2011 at 9:54 am

    This is absolutely beautiful! Exactly how I feel about my own son. I feel like sometimes people shy away from him or are afraid he will break or something. They do not know how beautiful and strong and loving he really is. They just don’t give him the chance. It is sad really. Mostly for them. Because they are missing out on someone so amazing.

  3. June 10, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Song for Tony
    “The Special Gift the Lord has sent to me”
    God sent me a child that has needed special care from the time that he was born. He has taught me to turn to the Lord whether than away. He is so full of life no matter the challenges that lay ahead. He brings others to the Lord with his spontatous sayings or outbursts. He is always happy no matter the cirmanstance. He walks with the Lord as a young child does. He does not let others bring him down. He is one of the greatest gifts the Lord has sent to me. Dealing with his challenges has made my walk with the Lord stronger. I am closer to the Lord because all I can do is hand it over to the Lord. The Lord has taught me through this special child that I was stronger than I thought because of the Lord. An Autistic child helps you see things differently. Sometimes I think he puts these special and wonderful gifts here to teach others how to be more like the Lord and turn to the Lord. With these Special Angels you need to slow down to hear and see what they need. That is just what we need to do everyday for the Lord. I thank the Lord everyday for my Special child that he has sent to me to for him.
    This was written shortly after we were home from the hospital with the mengitis.

    • amanda
      June 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm

      I really agree with you Wendy. God put jack in my life for a reason. I really think it was to teach me patience and to slow down. I just wanted to let you know your post touched me and made me cry. Take care. Amanda

  4. Linda Wiktorowicz
    June 10, 2011 at 9:57 am

    You are a gem for writing and sharing this post.. and I’m certain that your son is too! God bless you both.

  5. June 10, 2011 at 10:01 am

    That is truly beautiful.

  6. June 10, 2011 at 10:01 am

    This is a beautiful poem. It reminds me of how I feel about my younger cousin. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Beth Olds
    June 10, 2011 at 10:02 am

    This is so beautiful!!! thank you for posting, God Bless!!!

  8. June 10, 2011 at 10:18 am

    This is so true, so perfectly said for many of us who “possess” these little gems!

  9. June 10, 2011 at 10:18 am


  10. Vicki
    June 10, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Would love to give a copy of this to my son’s teacher from last year… made me cry. Thank you

  11. June 10, 2011 at 10:26 am

    This is extraordinary to say the least. As a mother I see the incredible potential that Jacob holds in his hands. It is something worth more than riches or fame…it is a little boy who has the courage and perseverance, who shines brighter than the son. His name is Jacob Samuel Wilson to the world but to me he is the perfect expression of love and happiness :)

    Thank you for sharing this with us, it is beautiful!

  12. donna hamm
    June 10, 2011 at 10:27 am

    If you knew you me would see, the beauty that lies benieth, the voice of war and love and piece, the child who could not understand, that world did not know his language. The pains of sight and sound and taste, the world is such a noisey place. I do not scream for lack of love, i scream of injustice to God above, the world just does not understand, that i am different. speak softley to my heart and you will the beauty of autism.

  13. Deb
    June 10, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Beautiful!!! Bless you and yours. xoxo :)

  14. June 10, 2011 at 10:34 am

    This is extraordinary to say the least. As a mother I see the incredible potential that my son, Jacob holds in his hands. It is worth far more than riches or fame. He is a little boy who has the courage and perseverance to do anything, who shines brighter than the sun. His name is Jacob Samuel Wilson to the world but to me he is the perfect expression of love and happiness :)

    Thank you for sharing this with us, it is beautiful!

  15. Julie
    June 10, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I see my son and great nephew in your words and fall in love with them all over again.

  16. June 10, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Beautiful! I love your sentiment. Thank you for sharing.

  17. June 10, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your words that I know were written from your heart! I have a beautiful son too! I have written about him also, and would love for you to visit and read them. I tell others that I believe they were sent here to teach us not so much the other way around. But to teach our hearts the lessons that God thinks are important. Have a blessed day, Brenda Conley

  18. June 10, 2011 at 11:38 am


  19. jaybe franklin
    June 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    What a beautiful heartwarming poem!

  20. Caroline
    June 10, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    The poem mirrors exactly how I feel about my own son who has ADHD/Aspergers. I hope you dont mind but I have shared it with friends who also have sons’ with disabilities.

  21. Diane M. Moreno
    June 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing. As I read this I felt as if I was writting this about my own little boy. God Bless you and your son always.

  22. June 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    What a beautiful and insightful poem; so true and loving. Those in our lives who have autism are true gifts to us all.

  23. debbie pulley
    June 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    This is such a great poem, comes from ur heart to all with a loved one that battles with Autism. God bless u and ur family ad thank you for helping to put words to thoughts and feelings that may not have been able to be said

  24. Dylan's Mom
    June 10, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I can truly appreciate your heartwarming poem! I have a son with autism also. Thank you for sharing!

  25. June 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Thought provoking poem.After all our special children need affection and not just sympathy.This poem would be read again and again for the smoothness it bestows on autistic person.

  26. hcjnej@yahoo.com
    June 10, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    That was beautiful. Thanks for sharing :)

  27. Karen
    June 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Dear Lisa,

    This poem is absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing and speaking the words from your heart with so many of us who also have children with autism. When people really look, our lives are filled with so many hidden blessings :). My name is Karen and my email address is: jkwhite1994@sbcglobal.net. I was wondering if I could use your poem publicly with an autism project that I am doing? I will give you more details in a private e-mail.

  28. Cindy
    June 10, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Beautifully said :)

  29. Sena
    June 10, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Just beautiful….I work with the austic population and they are simply amazing. Thanks for your post.

  30. Dianne Kixmiller
    June 10, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    This is a beautifully written truth about my own two grandsons who have FXS. Thank you Lisa.

  31. mbojosouvenir
    June 11, 2011 at 12:08 am

    waaaw great, enjoy my blog everybody :D i am newbie here :D

  32. karon strahan
    June 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    God bless you and your beautiful relation to life through your child, your extraordinary perception and the work that I know has not been at all easy to become who you are that enables you to see as you do. You are a miracle incarnate, your child has brought this out, but it is you that has chosen to be this point of light in so much darkness. You put in words with such articulate eloquence and love the feelings about your baby I have toward mine. Thank you for accepting with dignity, grace and a hugely love-filled heart your gift from God and life that’s grown your soul. In love and friendship, Karon

  33. KB
    June 11, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Thank you for putting into words what goes through my head every day.

    An autistic child’s mother

  34. June 12, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Hi! I’m Ty!

    LOVE your poem! I’m a big fan of the ocean & all of it’s critters myself…so I get what you’re saying.
    Thanks for sharing!


  35. Audrey Castillo
    June 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    That is exactly how I feel about my own son. I wish more people knew him the way I do. I am so proud now that he has graduated from elementary school. He has come so far. Our children have so much potential and want to reach out to others despite their lack of socialization skills. People need to stop being shallow and ignorant and start reaching out to our kids. Bravo for a very well-done writing.

  36. Hope LaVare
    June 13, 2011 at 8:14 am

    wow, I still have goose bumps. What you wrote is what has been in my heart since my daughter was nine months old. As hard as some days can be, We are blessed to have these children in our lives. Thank you for sharing.

  37. June 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm


    I loved your juxtoposition between your son and the gems in the sea. We, and our children who have autism, are quite different – but there is still beauty that lies within us and them. You told a beautiful story and have given me a new way of looking at my son.

    Thank you for sharing.

  38. Linda.
    June 13, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I have bookmarked this and l will read it everyday.

  39. Gale
    June 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I have just printed this poem and it is posted over my desk so I can read it again every day.

    What an inspiration you are to all of us with special needs children.


  40. Daphne Winders
    June 17, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    This is beautiful and I thank you for penning it. It’s exactly how I feel about my son.

  41. June 22, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing… Could not say it better myself all of children are rare special gems just waiting for the general society to discover their beauty!!!

  1. June 10, 2011 at 8:04 pm

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