In the last few years I’ve been reading articles by autistic adults. Many of these adults comment about parents how children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are treated. One of the common issues in these articles is parents focus on curing autism instead of providing support. Autistic adults view this as an attack on them and a lack of empathy for their difficulties.
I am a parent of an autistic son and I identify with many autistic characteristics. Because of this, I feel that I have experience with both sides of this issue. As an adult, it’s a little scary to think of being cured of my differences and how I would change. Would I still be the same person or would I lose some essential part of myself? However, as the parent of an autistic child, I understand why a cure can be desirable. My son has acted out his anger and frustration when he isn’t able to communicate with me or other people and my heart aches at his struggle to be understood. I want to be able to connect with him and the communication issues from autism make that difficult. I want a cure for the parts of my son’s behavior that make his life difficult. There are also times when I would like a cure for my difficulties in communication and connection with others.
Over the years, I am slowly learning that I need to accept my son for who he is, not who I think he should be. In my own quest to be normal, I have wanted a normal child so I can feel validated as a good parent. It’s only when I’ve gained experience as a parent and increased confidence in myself that I can see he has to find his own path in the world. I would also like him to have fewer barriers interacting with other people without losing who he is. Yet those difficulties are part of him and contribute to who he is. I have to step back and support him in living his life even while I wish I could make parts of that life easier for him.
Photo by J.T. Harpster, copyright 2016.