Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spectrum Saturdays: Defeating Autism?


My recent posts speaking out against the teachings of the Pearl's and describing how our family was affected by their books, brought a lot of new readers to my blog.  I had a lot of wonderful e-mails reminding me how many people are touched in some way by Autism.

One e-mail I got was from an adult on the Spectrum.  He encouraged me to see Autism as part of my children, and not something that needed to be overcome, or defeated.  He believes that it causes kids more difficulty to teach them to be something other than what they are.  It's not a new idea for me.  I've actually thought about it a lot.  While Autism is classified as a disorder, it's also part of who my kids are.  I can see that.

I have mixed feelings, for obvious reasons.  No parent wants to see their child have to struggle so hard to do things that come naturally for other children.  Things as simple as saying, "I love you" or playing with another child.

At the same time, Autism allows my children to see the world from a totally different perspective.  Reagan can get lost in stories in a way that most other children can't.  His imagination is unfettered, and it takes him places other kids can't go.  I wouldn't change that for the world!

So, is it fair to say I want to keep the parts of Autism that I feel have come to be part of my children's personality?  I don't mind Ciaran's fascination with numbers, or Reagan's ability to remember huge chunks of dialog from his favorite movies.  But I don't want to stop fighting against the parts of Autism that make their lives difficult.  I want Reagan to take a shower without being forced.  I want Ciaran to be able to talk to me, and have a conversation.  I don't want the parts of Autism that keep them trapped.  

Mostly though, I just want them to have tools to make their journey through this world a little bit easier.   I may not get them to understand why the response to "How are you?" should be a simple "Fine, thank you." instead of a rant on changes in a favorite computer game.  But knowing that answer will make them less socially awkward, and will cause them less trauma.  For my kids, who are higher functioning, much of their therapy is about teaching them to work with their disorder, not force them to be something they're not.

And, honestly, I do that for all my children, Autistic or NT.  That's what parents do.  We try to give our children the tools that they need, specific to their personalities, that will make life easier for them, and help them navigate the world they live in.    

In the end, I suppose I take a middle ground.  Parts of Autism I will fight to pound into oblivion.  And I'll make no apology for it.  At the same time, I will work to help my children work with the parts that are just who they are.  But every day I will love all of them.  That's just how being a mom works.

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  1. Good points and I think you have great attitude about this. My oldest does not have autism, but he has some of those qualities that you described in your kids. Some would call it quirky, but I love those facets of his personality.

  2. I appreciate this. my middle guy is suspected to be on the spectrum. We had him evaluated last summer which has proven of little help at all. There is much I love about his uniqueness but there are things that make his life so much harder that I don't.


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