Friday, July 22, 2011

"It may be normal, darling; but I'd rather be natural."

Yesterday on facebook a question was posed: Is it important to teach your child with autism to "act normal"?

For parents with ASD kids, "normal" is often a goal.  I remember our ABA therapist said to us "The goal is to have him look as normal as possible.  For him to go out and have no one realize he has a diagnosis."  That was three years ago and at the time, it seemed like a great idea.

Needless to say, the question prompted a lot of different responses.  Here is mine:

I want The Boy to be himself as much as possible.  I want him to be confident and happy.  I want him to be included and form relationships - if that is what he wants.  I want him to be accepted for who is, rather than be accepted because he's worked so hard at being normal.

I want to teach him RespectMannersDignity.    

I want society to see beyond the diagnosis.   

I don't want him to be stared at or ridiculed or ostricized.

How can we talk about acceptance and then expect our kids to conform to what society deems to be normal?

Obviously, I wouldn't want The Boy to strip in public or bang his head against a wall or window in frustration.  But if he flapped forever - who is that hurting?  Is he to be shunned because he flaps or may repeat the same sentence over again?

So for now, we'll pass on being normal.  I'd much rather The Boy be Norrin.

Thought I'd share some quotes on normal:

"Normal is over rated, and so is spelling.You want perfection? Go out and buy a spell check, but know this: Spellcheck won't keep you warm at night or love you unconditionaly. I will stick to being abnormal and a bad speller. Makes life more interesting. After all, what fun is there in being normal or perfect?"
Cristina Marrero

"If you are different from the rest of the flock, they bite you"
Vincent O'Sullivan (The next room)

"It may be normal, darling; but I'd rather be natural."
Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's)

Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent.
Sigmund Freud

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.
Albert Camus

The weirder you're going to behave, the more normal you should look. It works in reverse, too. When I see a kid with three or four rings in his nose, I know there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about that person.
P. J. O'Rourke

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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.