My Son is Perfectly Himself

My son has autism. It is part of who he is. Take that away, and he’d be a very different little boy. When people talk about cures or recovery, it strikes a nerve in me, a very sensitive little nerve. There is nothing wrong with my son. He learns differently, he needs a little guidance on social skills, but he is perfectly him.

These organizations that crow about finding a cure for autism, defeating autism, reaching recovery, irritate me. My son may have his quirks, his difficulties, his frustrations, his symptoms, but it’s my job to teach him to work with them and through them, not to change him. I am a teacher, not doctor, not a ‘miracle worker’ and, to be honest, I don’t need or want a miracle.

It can be a long process, finding the way he learns best, finding the best way to reach him, but it’s worth it. When I hear him playing with his brother, playing treasure hunter or with his cars, and I hear him interacting, not mimicking, I know we’re doing something right.

What my son needs is not a cure. He needs guidance. He needs good teachers and therapists who not only work with him, but are able to find the right ways to get through to him. We’ve been very lucky so far with teachers, therapists, and doctors. They’ve worked beautifully with him, with my husband and myself. They’ve answered our questions, listened to our concerns, and been a great help.

I don’t see the point in wishing my child was different. My son is my son and I can’t imagine him any other way. That’s not to say I don’t beam with pride at his progress, at every step he accomplishes. My son has autism, it is part of who he is, but it does not have to define him, to define how we see him. It is not the whole of who he is – he is much, much more. All children on the spectrum are more than the sums of their symptoms and we, as a public, as parents need to remember that. They have autism, they are not autism. They are marvelous beautiful people who are an integral part of our world. If we all thought the same, invention would stop, innovation would stop. I refuse to put limits on my son because of a disability he just happens to have. In fact, I refuse to let anyone else put limits on him either.

It can be easy to look at families with typical children and wonder what it must be like, but I just don’t see the point in that. Envy won’t help my son progress. Comparing him to others won’t help him. Neither will berating those families for not having the same kinds of issues my family has. Everyone has their issues, their problems, their difficulties. There is nothing families of typical kids can do that we can’t do, we just have to prepare differently and be willing to roll with the occasional meltdowns.

Living with autism isn’t about finding a ‘cure’ or reaching some imaginary point in his progression where someone with a PH.D. pronounces him ‘recovered’. Living with autism is about learning how to work with it, to find how my son learns best and use that. Living with autism is about making sure my son lives as full, as happy, and as wonderful a life as I can. If I spend my time looking for a ‘cure’, I wouldn’t be much good to him. Besides, who would he be if the powers that be suddenly figured out how to rewire his brain? I don’t believe he’d be the same smart, happy, wonderful kid I have now and I don’t want to change him. My son is perfectly himself.

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