Why I Don’t Think Autism Is a Gift or a Problem

As Autism Awareness Month is coming up, I’ve been thinking about what the diagnosis means to our family.

Our official diagnosis anniversary will be a year in May. I’ve seen a lot of debate about whether autism is a gift or not. Some people think it is, and probably a larger portion feel adamantly that it is not. I don’t feel that it’s a gift and I certainly don’t feel that it’s a problem. To me, autism isn’t something Vegas HAS. To me, Vegas is Vegas.

All of his unique quirks make him who he is. It’s not something he developed or contracted. He was born that way. (We have a genetics test to prove it.) I don’t remember a day when I ever felt anything was wrong with Vegas. He crawled late, but he did this adorable scoot thing that we have tons of videos of. He walked on his toes, which we also thought was cute.

And the flapping. I loved the flapping long before I knew it was an indication of anything. I still do. I have an entire camera roll of flapping videos. It’s how I know what toys he wants for Christmas or what chips he wants at the store. It’s how he shows he’s happy, and no one will try to stop him for exhibiting his happiness in my presence without getting a polite “mind your own dang business.”

I can’t speak for how Vegas feels about not being able to verbally convey his wants/needs. I know he’s one of the happiest kids I’ve ever met.

We send him to therapy not because I want to change him, but because I can’t change the world. If I could make everyone go to therapy to understand Vegas, I would. But that isn’t an option, so the best I can do is help him understand everyone else’s way of doing things.

I don’t think Vegas having autism is a gift or a problem. I think Vegas is Vegas and if that fits the criteria for autism, then that’s fine with me. I wouldn’t want him any other way.

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