Mr. Speaker, today is World Autism Awareness Day. It also marks 14 years since my son, Jaden, was diagnosed with autism.
In many ways Jaden is like a 3-year-old or 4-year-old trapped in a 16-year-old's body. He is non-verbal, has trouble with abstract concepts, will cry when sad, and squeal loudly or giggle when happy. When something is on his mind, he will grab my face and inquire with an escalating “Bababababa” until he gets the explanation he needs to move on with his life.
He is obsessed with dogs, to the point where he will go nose to nose with any dog he sees, regardless of size or demeanour, something we must always be aware of when out in public. In some ways Jaden is very much like other 16-year-olds. He loves making chocolate chip cookies, working in the school library and bowling with dad on Saturday mornings.
I never dreamt I would have a son with special needs, but I can honestly say I could not be more proud of my boy. He is always quick with a high-five or a kiss, is never ever a bully and loves everyone without a hint of judgment. I think we could all use a little more of that.