Through the Eyes of One with Autism

Leslie Schwass tells here about her 35 year old son’s battle to overcome the effects of autism.”

The Encourager

Matthew came in at 5.5 lbs, five weeks early. At three months he reacted to the immunisation injection, and then failed to develop at normal milestone pace. He was diagnosed with a host of problems, but chiefly brain injury with autistic tendencies. He also had mild cerebral palsy. As a family we were advised Matthew might not be able to walk, see or hear properly. When he was five we were told by a paediatric professor that Matthew was 98% intellectually handicapped. He said everything I did for Matthew was a waste of time. However, I persisted to help my son by pouring hours of time into teaching him to read, write, ride bikes and horses, swim and enjoy life.

Childhood saw Matthew undergoing many therapies, and as a trained and registered physiotherapist, I exercised Matty several times a day for many years. I did patterning, balance, strengthening exercises, speech therapy, sensory integration therapy, behavioural modification programmes and more. I home schooled Matthew, and he graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in English) in 2011.

Matthew used to scream a lot, and life was stressful for us all. However, now we can say our lives have all been enriched by this amazing young man. He is intelligent, witty, always happy despite often being in pain with a bowel disorder or being disorientated after seizures.

Matthew has little speech, but uses a light-writer (a talking device) to communicate. His insights, wisdom and humour are amazing, and his outlook and interpretation of nature and life are inspirational. He is one of my best friends, and my closest confidant.

He has just published a book containing over a hundred poems he has written. I believe you will come away feeling encouraged and blessed as you start to see through this autistic man’s eyes wonderful truths from him to you. I have included here one of these and part of another.


Wings Of Aura

Wings soaring, riding in rigorous Antarctic gales
solitary, yet not lonely as these awe-inspiring,
albatrosses make predestined journeys across the seas.

The cathedral bells chime; the Gocad God bird
arrives. Magic momentum makes mystic moves
as this enchanting albatross nests for the spring. All
the people flock to observe the exquisite fowl.
admire its plumage, gape at its dramatic rituals, its
romancing, its dedication to young.

They incubate for 83 days, you know, and parents
Share care-giving for months: No family courts. No
Divorces. No crimes. Should an albatross get hurt at sea
Real neighbours rally to feed, and with much TLC.


In Heaven

Heaven is as near as you allow it.
We are housed in an individual encasement,
A body unique but in damage and repair mode
But our spirit has the ability to be renewed
To be regenerated
To be refined
Shaped with Spirit
Empowered to see the Lord.

All heaven’s hosts
witness the truth,
and when God chooses
we see the future.

My spirit is with the angels
giving glory to our Lord in Heaven.


By Leslie & Matthew Schwass

[Originally published in The Encourager June 2014, issue #142]

Reposted in conjunction with Neurodiversity Celebration Week 2024 & World Down Syndrome Day 2024

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