Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Day my Son told me he Hates Autism...

Special needs parents have diverse perspectives surrounding the "cure debates". Some believe if there were to be a cure it'd be the children's choice to take it, not the parents’ choice to give. Some feel the mere thought of a cure to be preposterous and somewhat insulting. Then there are those that would give their children a cure in a second, if they could. Your stance depends highly on the path you have taken with your child, not to mention the path that was taken while raising you. I've always swayed towards it being insulting and it being purely my son's decision, never being sure if I was on the right side of the line but always leaning more towards it being insulting.

My stance on this topic changed the other day, in five minutes time. You see, while making our way through the produce department in our local grocery store my son said a few things that changed my life and my perception of his self-awareness forever.

The Biggest of Revelations

He was abnormally chatty all day that day; out of nowhere he asked me if there were "adult’s autism?" [Of course I said yes]. He then asked if there were "teen autism" and "old autism" [yes to both]. A few moments later he looked me in the eye [which rarely happens] and asked if there was a way to "make it gone". I told him no and asked why. His response: he dropped his head and looked defeated- let a tear fall and proceeded to knock me back into the reality of his world-- he told me he "HATES autism" "People stare" "people no understand words" "No one sees him". In response to this we spoke about autism and him as an 11 year old, about society and his peers, pretty much about it all. So I thought... Then late last night he added to the conversation by asking if "autism has brain". Needless to say we had another long talk about the disorder he apparently HATES.

My son springing this on me unexpectedly got me to thinking, how would his life-our lives be without autism? Would things be so different? Would a cure even be worth trying? I do believe that question is also one of those that's answer is one of pure opinion based on how you were raised and the journey you have taken with your child. None the less, a fascinating topic to ponder.  

 As a Mother..

I've always said I didn't think I'd change him, even if I could; however given this revelation- I wish it were an option. I've lived as both a mom of a nonverbal severely autistic child and as a mom of a moderate-severe functioning verbal autistic child... I have to say, at times, him being verbal is more challenging than him having no words. [Once again, that's an opinion that centers around the path you've taken and how you were raised]. When my son was a small child he was incredibly violent to himself and to others. He had massive meltdowns and he couldn't speak to tell me why. It was a very challenging time in our lives. It is and was a reality that at that point of time our lives were centered on him being stable not on how he felt about the life he was living. I probably didn't think about it in part because he wouldn't have been able to tell me and in part because given his level of functioning it never crossed my mind he could form an opinion on the given topic to begin with.

In Conclusion

 I have to say this: Never take your child's emotions or opinions for granted; whether they can express them or not--they are there. I now know that I did for far too long. I also know that it will never happen again. The initial shock of him verbalizing such a huge thing to me lasted a while but has since subsided quite a bit. Now it is time to focus on him recognizing the amazing qualities his autism allows him to possess, the things that raise his spirits about being "different", it's time for him to see a different side of the spectrum.  

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