Autism, I’m Going To Be Honest With You


To Autism,

I’m not going to begin my letter with “dear” Autism — you don’t deserve that greeting. You don’t really deserve anything. You’re nothing to me because my son is not defined by you. My son is defined by his beautiful nature and the unconditional love of his family. His foundation is built on these things. You’re not what he is, you’re what he has, and we will never be overcome by it.

When he first received the diagnosis of you, I will admit that initially I was in a tailspin about what it all meant. You overwhelmed me with the amount of professionals required to enter into his life — speech therapist, occupational therapist, pediatrician, child psychologist, etc. For a time, you made me feel like I wasn’t adequate to deal with these things. I showed you.

Sure, you’ve presented him with struggles in his young life. My son is 8, he cannot speak, he cannot toilet himself and has difficulty with some day-to-day tasks. He didn’t succumb to those struggles. He worked out a way around you, a way to side-step you. He knows his routines, and they make him happy. He learns new things every day. He eats well, he’s learning how to dress and undress himself, he takes other kids around him in his stride. There are times when you upset him, particularly when he cannot communicate a want or need. However, in spite of you, he still manages to get his point across.

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Autism, you can be scary, particularly in the way you seem to whip people up into a frenzy of controversy on social media. You can make well-meaning parents turn on each other. You’re an expert in undermining, in insurgency and in generating fear. You do all these things because in the end, despite the journey different families are on, we learn to deal with you and in a way, embrace you. We’re all better people because of you and in the face of you.

So, Autism, you’re a part of our lives; don’t think for a second I’m in denial about that. I see you every day. I’ve seen the lows, and I’ve seen the highs. We walk on a rocky, winding path, and sometimes we trip over. The thing with people who live with you is that we always pick ourselves up and grow that little bit fiercer and stronger. Thank you, Autism. My boy is beautiful, my family is strong and through the lessons you’ve presented to us, you’re no longer an overpowering invader.

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