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.

10/17/07

Newsflash! Autism Is NOT Cancer!

I hear from time to time, some parents compare autism to cancer. They are somehow able make many parallels between autism and cancer. This, honestly, embarrasses me. I have friends and family members who are fighting cancer, I know parents who have lost their children to cancer. Cancer kills. Cancer is an evil disease. We need to find a cure for cancer.

I can't imagine going up to one of my friends & complaining to them about my child's autism, and how it's so much like their son or daughter's fatal tumor. I'm sick to think of a conversation comparing the chemotherapy and medications their child had to take (to save their life), and of all the treatments and therapies I might have tried to "cure" my child. I wonder what my friends would think if I were to bitch about my sleepless nights, how my child just wouldn't quit stimming, and how hopeless life with autism was...when my friend is up all hours pacing the hospital room, or their child was so sick from cancer that his body could no longer handle even the smallest of movements, or how their family remained positive and never gave up until the moment their child died.

No, any such conversations would sicken me. I can't believe anyone truly buys that garbage. It blows me away that someone would ever make such a comparison. For me, I see absolutely no connection to cancer or any other life-threatening disease. There are some minor commonalities one could draw between autism (any other disorder or condition that can be stressful on parents or a family) and any disease that also causes stress. But, beyond that, the parents of an autistic child, who has typical autism (i.e. classic, really anywhere on the spectrum), cannot and could not relate in anyway to having a child with cancer or any other fatal (or potentially fatal) disease.

The way I see it, parents who make this argument don't know the difference between an inconvenience and a utterly life-altering, horrible, tragic circumstance. To them, autism has wrecked their lives. Their plans of little league and a walk down the aisle have been destroyed. They are irritated and aggravated. Their life has changed, and to them, this is a nuisance. Autism is an inconvenience for these parents. Cancer is a tragedy. Cancer causes physical pain and symptoms, cancer is heartbreaking. Children who have cancer must undergo surgeries, infusions, injections, pills, and more in hopes of saving their life. Families are devastated. Cancer treatments and hospitalizations create major financial debt for these families. They do not have a choice as to whether or not to try a treatment. The alternative is certain death.

No parent of an autistic child (who only has autism) has ever had to live through that. They've never gotten on their knees and begged God to save their child, and by save I mean keep their child here on Earth. They've never cried so much they were certain they had no more tears, because of how heartbreaking it was to see their child lying in a hospital bed, connected to dozens of wires and tubes. They've never felt sure they were about to vomit up their insides because of the unbearable stress, fear, and hell they felt when the doctor tells them the treatment was unsuccessful. They have no clue what that pain feels like. They have no concept of being a parent to a child who has cancer, or any other life-threatening disease.

I feel safe to say that any of my friends who visit a cemetery on their child's birthday would gladly switch places with me--on any given day. They would move heaven and earth to get their child back, and trust me, if part of the deal with God was that their child would stay alive but be autistic, they would not need even a second to shout YES absolutely!

This phantom connection that some parents try to make between their autistic child and a child battling cancer will never make sense to me. Cancer is not a nuisance, not an inconvenience, not a different way of being. Cancer is heartbreaking, it is torture.

Cancer kills.

Autism doesn't.

End of story.

4 comments:

Steve D said...

Hi S.L.
I found your name over on Bev's blog (Asperger Square 8). I really like your blog - I like the message. I totally agree. Though it is going through some minor technical changes right now, I recommend you check out the autism hub (www.autism-hub.co/uk). It is a collection of blogs by autistic adults and parents of autistic kids that you will find very like-minded. Bev and Autism Diva are just two of about 40 of us.
Mine is at www.onedadsopinion.blogspot.com

Anyway, very nice blog. And have a great day :)

abfh said...

Very well said. Shame on the ignorant people who compare autism to cancer.

I also would like to see your blog on Autism Hub! If you're interested, you can contact the administrator and ask to be added:

admin (at) autism-hub.co.uk

Casdok said...

Yes very well said!

S.L. said...

Thank you everyone for your positive comments!! I really appreciate it. I will look into the Autism hub. And, will also check out your blogs, Steve & casdok (abfh, I'm always reading yours!!). Happy writing.

Cheers!