Here’s my favorite story about my son Clay.

Clay was in second grade. During a free period, he was spelling out words on a white board with magnetic letters. He was into brand names that he saw on signs at the time, so he spelled out “Starbucks”. Then he spelled out “Penske Trucks”. Clay’s teacher came over and made a big fuss.

“That’s great, Clay. You are spelling such big words.”

“Can you spell something else just for me?”

Clay looked at her, looked at the letters on the table in front of him and with no hesitation spelled out, “Go Away.”

I have told that story at several conferences for work. It always gets a laugh, and I usually go on to talk about how it is a great example of direct, honest and effective communication.

Here’s the thing. I leave something out of the story. Clay, who is now 18, doesn’t speak. To be specific, he doesn’t use speech to communicate. He says words all the time, usually phrases from his favorite books or movies or something he just heard. Clay has autism. I leave that part out for two reasons:

  • I don’t need it to make the story work. In fact, the knowledge that Clay has autism tends to add a distraction.
  • The fact that I have a son with autism is not something I volunteer in the first few minutes that you meet me.

Don’t get me wrong.  It is not that I’m ashamed or hiding it. I’m just generally a private person, who doesn’t wear his personal life on his sleeve.  The thing is that Clay is front and center in my life (along with his older brother), and I thought it was time to share the rest of that story in my own way. With this blog. Maybe it will be helpful to other parents dealing with life with their own Clay.

One more thing. Clay has begun using a computer keyboard to communicate with us, and it is my fervent hope that he will be able to contribute to this blog as well. Stay tuned for that.

If you are new to the blog, you might want to check out:

Have Mike Read” – the first time Clay typed

A Mother’s Day Message” – Clay’s thoughts on this special day for his Mom, who is his typing partner and number one fan.

So Proud” – an account of the day Clay presented to a class at Arcadia University.

Don’t Fence Me In” – Clay’s thoughts on all of the locked doors in his life

A Role Model” – The little guy’s visit to hear a presentation by a fellow traveler on the spectrum

Please feel free to contact me to share your thoughts.

Larry Blumenthal
Holland, PA

  1. #1 by schonakessler on June 26, 2010 - 8:20 am

    That is a great story!

    There aren’t many Dad’s I have found out there blogging…yet.

    I shall follow you and your family along this journey. Hopefully I will learn something I can pass on to others. 🙂

  2. #2 by themommypsychologist on February 29, 2012 - 2:23 am

    Hi Larry. I’m new to the blogging world. Just launched my blog this week and I’ve been looking around the community trying to meet other parenting bloggers. I really like your site. Love that your a dad and so willing to share your perspective. It is one that is missing from so many of our dialogues on parenting. I’ll be back:) Plus, given that I’m a psychologist as well as a mom, autism holds a very special place in my heart.

  3. #3 by Sara on April 23, 2012 - 12:48 pm

    Just found your blog today and I love it.
    We have three boys – our oldest (almost 8) is autistic. I just started blogging recently as an outlet and a way to find others going through similar challenges. Something else I’ve enjoyed lately is finding bloggers with older autistic children. It gives me a glimpse of possible futures. It gives me hope.

    I’ve only read a few of your posts so far – I look forward to reading the rest.

  4. #4 by Insung on August 14, 2013 - 4:12 pm

    Hi! I really liked the story you shared here. My sister is autistic and she seldom uses direct communications as well. It is hurtful and funny at the same time.
    I would like to hear more stories from your journey! Good luck! 🙂

  5. #5 by davisbrotherlylove on January 19, 2015 - 11:37 am

    Hi Larry,
    Great story. You’re right, it doesn’t need any further information about Clay’s autism. My older brother is autistic, nonverbal as well, but very low functioning. We’re a couple of generations older however, growing up in the 50s and 60s. It is wonderful that Clay has a means of communicating. My blog is about autism from a brother’s perspective. Autism can be rough on sibs as well as parents. Thank you for your blog.
    best wishes,

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