Autism Watch: 2007

Re-focusing, but not just ‘letting him be who he is’

Posted on: June 10, 2008

When I started this blog, I had intentions of covering all aspects of autism, but focusing mainly on sharing news as well as day-to-day things that occur. Lately though, with all the news happening, I’ve gotten caught up. I’ve posted on so much of the hype that I’ve gotten away from my original plan. So, I do promise to get back on task to a more rounded blog about autism…but I do want to talk about the new “Just let him be” campaign that’s supposedly growing in numbers, those who want us to just ‘accept’ our child the way he is, and stop all the treatments. (For more info, see ABCNews.com for this: Autistic and Proud)

What??

That was my first thought — stop all treatments? Stop looking for a cure and accept them for who they are?

I thought about this further, and couldn’t get past the thought that anyone who thinks we haven’t accepted who are children are really doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I think everyone other than those dealing with new diagnoses, those who haven’t had a chance to grasp it all yet, accepts their children. I accept my child’s autism. I accept his differences. I accept his tics, his stims, his rituals, his needs…but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on thoughts of happiness and functioning as he wants to within society, and I don’t see him being able to do that if he’s on the floor in a tantrum, biting himself, wetting/messing himself, or not understanding a change in routine. For non-verbal kids, I don’t think their parents should have to just ‘leave him be’ when it comes to not ever hearing their child speak. I don’t know, my child’s verbal, but from parents I’ve met, they’d give their right and left arms to hear their child say “I love you” or “I’m happy, Mom.” Who can blame them?

So moving on past ‘acceptance,’ what about finding a cure. Why wouldn’t we want to stop another generation from watching their child bang their head on the floor, line up their toys for hours, or flap their hands so much they can’t pay attention to anything else. Sure, I love and accept my child for his uniqueness, but does that mean that I should be okay with autism being out there, and I shouldn’t want other children to not have to go through this? It’s okay for some people, but why make that decision for others?

Heck yes I want a cure. I don’t believe we’re going to find it in genetics though — maybe partially, because these kids are genetically predisposed to autism, but we need to focus on why these children develop normally, even if they have a few oddities, then suddenly don’t. There’s something in our environment causing this, and the research needs to go there.

I accept my son for who he is. The differences that autism has ’caused’ him in make him unique. I often envy his outlook on life, and I don’t necessarily want to change it. I really wish I didn’t care what others think and would just dance in the aisle if I felt moved. I wish I could be comfy in flame-patterned lounge pants and a purple Pokemon t-shirt if I wanted to…in public. My son can. My son is a very unique individual, and I’m so very proud of him.  I also know that until the world accepts his differences, he could be in for a hard time as he gets in higher grades in school. But that’s not his problem, that’s society’s. Autism’s often teased, harassed, bullied and ignored, where other disabilities are accommodated. Still though, if I can help him feel more happy, more safe, more comfortable, then I’m going to do that. If that means biomedical treatment to help heal a funky rash, to stop a stim that leaves him with clown mouth, to help him sit down long enough to eat, to eat more than 7 items, to help him be, ahem, regular and not have a hurting tummy, then I’ll do that. In my opinion, to allow your child to suffer just so we can be prideful is wrong.

My child will be old enough to make his own decisions eventually. Until then, I’m going to do any and everything I can to make him healthy and happy. If autism takes away from that, I’ll be first in line to fix it as he deserves nothing less than healthiness and happiness. I can do that while still being proud of the unique little guy that he is.

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2 Responses to "Re-focusing, but not just ‘letting him be who he is’"

I think [I hope?] we’re all on the same page. I suspect there’s a bit muddle over terminology for instance, my boys both have speech therapy and occupational therapy, which to many would fall into the category of ‘cure’ whereas I think of them as ways to help them learn, expand and be more successful.
Best wishes

I wonder if this acceptance thing is because autism can easily be confused with “who they are” rather than “something they have.” I likened it on my blog to having a kid with a broken leg. Would we be condemned as not accepting our child because we treated the broken leg? I know it’s hard because the brain defines so much of who we are and it’s tucked away where no one can see it, only the symptoms. It’s difficult to hold those two seemingly contradictory positions: acceptance and desire for change.

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