su·per·he·ro /ˈso͞opərˌhirō/ noun A benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers, such as Superman

The word Superhero is a common word used in our house these days. My son has developed a love and often fixates on “superheroes” from Batman, Green Lantern, Spider-Man, Captain America, and more. And for those of you with loved one’s on the spectrum, you understand when I say that love runs deep!

He often needs his superheroes as a token during transitional times… from the house to the car…from the car to school. Bedtime sometimes isn’t a reality until LEGO Batman has been found and is safely in his hands, tucked into bed with him. I looked at the definition of “superhero”  and I got caught on one word, “fictional.”

In my son’s world, superhero’s aren’t fictional. They are very much a living, breathing part of his reality. So much so, that the absence of them can send our world spinning. Their very presence can make a stressful situation of transition easier and in the same breath, with one quick flip, they can add more stress with their absence. And at the moment, there is nothing fictional about our present reality and daily struggles with autism. Calm to upset…happy to sad..content to active.

But, I can’t help but think to myself “How does this superhuman navigate all these emotions and still smile at my silly jokes?”  Still willing to trust me when I get frustrated and raise my voice in the midst of a meltdown? Still continue to wake up with a clean slate, ready to love and start the day, no matter how traumatic bedtime was the night before?

And then I go back to that word, “fictional.” Because now I realize superheroes aren’t just a reality in his world, they are a reality in mine as well. In my world, there lives the strongest, most benevolent superhero of all. He embodies all the characteristics of what describes a superhero—brave, strong, resilient, and admirable. He is someone I look up to every day. He inspires me more than any other person in the world. He is superhuman. And most importantly, no part of him or autism ever has or ever will be viewed as fictional. I have a real-life superhero in our house and he goes by the name, Murphy. And he has already saved me in so many ways.


This post originally appeared on Adventures in Autism with Murphy.