Having an autistic child is not the end of the world--far from it. It is my hope that through this blog, at least a handful of people will get to understand that. My child is amazing, she brings us tremendous joy. We have good days & bad days, but we CHOOSE to focus on the good. Our belief is that by loving our daughter, giving her the most comfortable environment we can, and by most of all accepting her differences, she will continue to blossom--in her OWN way.

10/16/07

Autism Acceptance: What It Means To Me

Autism acceptance, to me, does not mean that a child cannot have speech therapy or help with sensory integration. It doesn't mean that a parent shouldn't seek out support groups. I'm not saying you can never cry or have the occasional pity party. What it means is that first & foremost, I love my child. I see past any disability or difference, and see that she is my daughter. She has talents & gifts, she has likes and dislikes, and she is a joy. At times, it may be harder to discover those things, but they are there. She may require more patience, more time. Living with my daughter, and raising her, I've had to learn new parenting skills. I've had to think differently, react calmer, and be more creative. To me, all of those things have made me a better parent and a better person.

Autism acceptance to me, doesn't mean I deny that autism can be and is often disabling. It doesn't mean I look at autism with rose-colored glasses. I believe that autism is a neurological (with many psychological symptoms and/or disorders occurring as well) condition, one that most likely is genetic (and perhaps metabolic in some form as well). I also believe that a lot of what we (NT) see as autistic symptoms are sometimes simply a different way of thinking, reacting, or being. Not every aspect of autism is a symptom or needs to be "worked on." Also, so many believe that autistic children won't develop or change, that with time, they will not gain skills. Many feel like they have limited time to 'fix' their child, that they are in a race to save the child they once had. This is simply not true. Every autistic person I know of, specifically those who have not been giving supplements or other supposed cures, they gain skills & develop with time.

Autism acceptance means that I choose to focus on the good. The difficult things, are not the focus or the center; they are not all that my daughter is. The challenging parts are instead looked at as speed bumps or hiccups. And, trust me, some days are a LOT bumpier than others!!! I am a realist. We have moments that make my head spin. I feel helpless at times. I pray for answers and strength. I don't pretend to think that our life is a piece of cake, nor that it will be easy as the years go on. I listen to the doctors & professionals, I read books, I'm well aware of the possible challenges our daughter may face. I know that she may always live with us, or require assistance in her day to day activities. I'm not sure what her physical or neurological health will look like in 5, 10, or 20 years. I do know that wasting time & energy on worry helps no one. Especially not my daughter.

Autism acceptance means I have actively chosen to focus on the good. And, there is plenty there. Sometimes, you just need a new persepective to see it. I have had plenty of that persperctive. And, that perspective came from things in our life other than autism. In fact, they were way larger & scarier than autism could ever be. I hope to tell others that it's okay to accept autism & fully embrace their child. You are not hurting or harming them. If you give love to your child & allow their self-esteem to blossom, and show them acceptance, you have done nothing wrong. Your child has not lost their soul, your life is not hopeless, autism in nothing like cancer.

It's okay to want your child to be able to communicate--it may just not be the form you are accustomed to. It may be through sign language, picture cards, or a computer. It's okay if your child needs therapy to help with motor skills or sensory processing or speech, just be sure it's therapy that is respectful to your child, advocate for your child, ensure that he is being treated kindly by the professionals in his life. It's okay to want your child to be able to deal with sensory input easier. But, realize, your child may always rock, bob, or sway, they may always flap a bit or grunt at times. That's okay too. There is plenty of room in society for people to bend and alter how they perceive and judge others. We can all lend a hand in that, and really make a difference.

The minute you stop seeing all the negative, stop focusing all your time, energy, and money on fixing or curing your child, and instead embracing them, finding the joy, and accepting your life, the better for all. I think we all owe it to your children--regardless of skill, ability, or diagnosis.

1 comment:

Dinah said...

Lovely to read your thoughts on autism
I think you'll like the Posautive youtube group -http://www.youtube.com/group/posautive

or view videos via posautive.org

cheers - a lot of people really hate the cancer analogy and all that goes with it, pernicious stuff

your daughter and you are lucky to have each other!