I Can Hear Everything

i can hear everything


I don’t speak much, but I can hear everything. Mama, baba, my brother Ahmed and everyone else calls me Yusuf. I will be five years old in exactly 157 days. I love dinosaurs. And I hate getting wet, but Mama says good boys must get a bath every day. That’s the worst time. Our house has many rooms, I can hide anytime I want. My memory is great.


Some days ago, mama was sad and upset because baba had a fight with her. Sometimes, she says things because she thinks I don’t understand them or pay attention. But I can hear everything. She told me that she and baba fought because of me and that if I could talk and be “normal”, we could be a happy family. She doesn’t know that I understand many words. It wasn’t a nice thing to say. Baba has always been that way. It isn’t my fault.


My family has me, Ahmed, Mama and Baba. Ahmed is okay. He helps me a lot. I like him. Mama is always worried. She cannot relax a lot. Sometimes she cries. I like her sometimes. She gives me food, and sometimes chocolate, she helps me when I’m wet. I don’t like baba a lot. I think he is always angry. Sometimes he yells at me or Ahmed or mama. He shouldn’t do that. It hurts my ears. And it makes Mama cry and Ahmed is scared too. I heard baba’s sister talk about something called “trauma”. She said that her and my baba’s baba was “byusive”. I think it means that he hurt baba and his sister because he was angry and mean. I’m happy he died long ago. She said that was why my baba was also angry all the time. It still isn’t okay for baba to be angry with us if his baba was a bad man.


Sometimes I don’t like mama either. She keeps trying to fix me. I want to tell her that I’m not broken. But I can’t say it. I don’t know how. When I was 823 days old – that is roughly 2 years and 3 months in your time – I started noticing that Mama sometimes looked at me differently. I didn’t know why. Then one day I heard her talk to baba. I told you – I can hear everything. She said that Yusuf wasn’t doing things he should. Like saying words. I didn’t know what she meant. Mama, baba and Ahmed say words all the time. But I can’t. I get everything done so I never need to say words. Over the next few months, Mama said many words to baba, but I did not understand them. Baba didn’t like it.


Then when, I was 3 years old, Mama took me to see someone. The man was in a room with a table with many things on it. I became overwhelmed by all the things, but mostly because I don’t like new people. I held on to mama. The man was okay I think, I only met him once. He asked mama many questions. And he asked me some too, but I didn’t answer. The man told my mama that I have something called Autism. I don’t know what it is. But mama was upset. She cried on the way home. When she told baba, he was angry too. Sometimes, I think he doesn’t like me a lot. Then mama read on the laptop about what to do with me. She said many women told her about how I will be cured with camel milk. But I’m not sick. I couldn’t tell her that. She made me drink camel milk every day. But she stopped when she found out everything was the same.


She also found out about some medicines. I wanted to tell her that I was fine. I cried. Broke some things. But she still forced me. Still, nothing happened. Mama became even more upset. I heard her tell someone that she had read autism was forever, but she didn’t want to believe it. She said many mothers told her that their children were getting better. But nothing happened.


Then when I was four years old, mama and baba were both tired of all experiments. They took me to a lady. She was nice. The lady didn’t think I was doing things on purpose. She played with me, and also helped me. I liked her a lot. She didn’t get angry like mama and baba when I didn’t act like they wanted me to. She told me sometimes that she understood me. And that helped me a lot. She also helped me understand everything around me. She said it was okay not to feel okay sometimes. The nice lady also helped me do things like Ahmed, like drawing and reading. She also let me play with dinosaurs sometimes. In a few months, the nice lady helped me say a few words, then I learned to use words together.


Baba was satisfied and Mama was very excited. They thought I was cured. They never understood that I was never sick in the first place. Mama said that now I knew a few words, I could learn everything else on my own, without help. They also said that the nice lady took a lot of money. And that they were happy they didn’t have to waste all that money anymore. They sent me to a new place called school. Ahmed went to school and he was happy. I thought it would be a nice place. I hated it. The other children always made fun of me and sometimes the teachers did it too. First, the teachers yelled at me to do things. I was scared. Then slowly, I returned to my own world, because that was safe. The teachers called my parents. They said bad things about me. But one nice lady explained that I needed help and that all the grown-ups shouldn’t be harsh on me.


My mama and baba had a fight again. It was about me. Remember… I can hear everything. I didn’t do anything on purpose. Mama wanted to take me to the nice lady from before school. But then she said she was ashamed as she hadn’t listened to her before. She took me to a new person. The new lady told my mother that she also had a son who had autism and that she knew how to handle me. I didn’t like that word. The new lady wasn’t bad. Her son was there too. But he wasn’t anything like me. The lady didn’t know anything. She made me and her son work in the same way. But I already knew those things. She treated me like I was a baby. The only good thing was that she didn’t make fun of me. After many months were wasted, I was in the same place as before. That’s when mama finally understood that this new lady was not qualified to deal with me. Just because she had an autistic son didn’t mean she could help me and the other kids.


Mama and baba thought that they were spending all that money and time. But they never understood that their money and time had helped me immensely and that they had invested in something long-term. They wanted quick results. Mama decided that we should go back to the nice lady I used to visit many months ago. She was embarrassed too. I don’t know why adults behave this way. First they make wrong decisions. Then they feel ashamed of making things right again. Mama didn’t understand it was me who suffered.


For many months, I stayed at home. Mama and baba fought a lot. And after every fight, mama would blame me. It made me sad. I didn’t ask to be born. It was their choice. I didn’t want to be like I am, and I didn’t have a choice. If anything, I should be the one blaming mama and baba for putting me in this situation. I wish I could tell them that.


Sometimes, I meet other children and wish to have an easy life like that. They don’t have to wait for their mama and baba to do things for them, they don’t need help eating and putting on clothes. They go to school and learn too. When mama is being mean to me, she often says that she wishes I could go to school and learn things like other kids, so I can get a job like baba when I grow up and become independent. Mama, I want to ask you what good is learning at school, and getting a job, if I still can’t eat by myself and wear clothes by myself when I grow up and I still wear diapers.


I also wish you can stop telling everyone that you can’t get Yusuf special help because it takes a lot of money. We went on a trip to France last year. I had a bad time there, but I know you told your friend how expensive it was. So, if you can spend money on those things, I know there is enough to get me help. You say it’s not worth it. Expressing myself in words is difficult, but I can hear everything. I don’t understand. Sometimes you say you wish I were like Ahmed and other kids. But you also say it’s not worth it. Am I not worth the effort? Do you not want me to be like other kids? There are so many mixed words I don’t know what I am supposed to do.




Read more:

The Lost Boy

Can Autism Be Cured?

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