Last night, I watched your show on Autism. (thank goodess for DVR) Not only was it incredibly disappointing but it also made me angry. My son has not been “robbed” of an emotional foundation.
No. My son is not “broken” so let’s not try to “fix” him.
And no, Autism is not a “nightmare.”
The audience you so carefully selected was nothing more than a pity party of parents. Instead of creating awareness and acceptance, your show promoted fear and despair. I remember when my son was initially diagnosed with autism at 2 years 5 months old – my heart was broken. (He's 5 now.) It was not the way I imagined our lives to be.
And what I really wanted was hope. I needed someone to tell me – it’s going to be fine; your son is going to be okay. I needed to hear it from a parent who had gone through a diagnosis. No one could offer me that. I had to find it within myself and create my own community of autism support. And my heart has healed. I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me or my family.
Autism itself, is not the “nightmare.” The nightmare is dealing with the Board of Education, budget cuts, insurance companies, attaining medicaid waivers, never ending waiting lists, phone calls and photo copies, run-arounds with agencies, lawyers to secure appropriate school placement (because our kids are not entitled to the best), lack of services, lack of awareness and lack of acceptance. We have learned to live, love and laugh with autism in our lives. We’ve let go of some dreams, but that’s not to say dreams do not exist – they’ve just been modified. We are okay. My son will be okay.
I’m not saying that autism is easy. Our life is challenging but again, not from autism. If I lived in a community where services were readily available, if every 30 minutes of speech, OT or PT wasn’t a fight for approval and if I had an abundant amount of wealth to pay for the best services – yeah, I’d be a whole lot happier. But I wouldn’t trade or change my son for anything in the world. Autism adds to his personality, it doesn’t diminish it.
That being said, children with autism are not “broken,” and they don’t need to be “fixed” – they need to be taught. Dr. Lovaas said, “If a child cannot learn in the way we teach ... we must teach in a way the child can learn.” We live in this superficial cookie cutter society where everyone needs to be absolutely perfect, everyone needs to fit in. And if you don’t – well, what the hell is wrong with you? Autism is not a disease to be cured. I wish parents would let go of their mainstream dreams and just learn to let the labels and classifications go. I don’t care what kind of classroom my kid sits in, so long as he is being taught in a way that is most effective for him.