Twenty years…

That’s how long I’ve waited for a simple hug from my son.

You see, my 20-year-old son Skyler is on the severe end of the autism spectrum, is non-speaking, has global motor difficulties and suffers from Crohn’s disease.

Frequently people ask me how I know that Skyler loves me or appreciates the great lengths I go through for him because his level of autism renders him speechless and unable to clearly demonstrate many emotions.

It’s a fair question and one I’ve asked myself hundreds of times.

As frustrating as it can be for both of us, I appreciate that Skyler has never given up on me or stopped trying to reach me via charades or any means necessary to gain my attention.

Over the years, I’ve relied on his body language and mannerisms to help me decipher his feelings.  Although, as with most relationships, it also requires paying close attention and learning to trust my instincts.

I don’t take for granted that Skyler has patiently led me into his world, allowing me time to absorb and crack the code of how he expresses basic emotions.  However, I’ve always longed for a deeper connection with Skyler, one that he initiates. 

Knowing he always flinched at uninvited contact, I never pushed for that or thought I’d get a physical reinforcement of love and affection that this momma desperately needed from her son.

Until a few months ago… when suddenly, he opened his arms wide and leaned in for a hug.

Even though it sometimes lasts only a brief second, what a remarkable experience to have Skyler initiate affection at random moments throughout each day.

His hugs have almost outnumbered his high fives – which was previously his only guaranteed communication method for the entirety of his life.

So, after 20 years of waiting, often impatiently if I’m being honest, my son has finally found comfort in human touch.

On a timeline of his choosing and at a level he’s comfortable with. 

I treasure these precious moments and will never take for granted the warmth of his embrace nor his lean in for a kiss every night before bed.

For those of you still waiting for your hand to be held, a kiss, hug or even the words ‘I love you’ to be offered, allow them to take the lead.

All things happen in due time.