What I Want the Typical Person to Know About Kids With Autism

Over the last three years, I’ve written several posts about fear. They have all been self-centered, as in I fear this and I fear that or I worry about this and I worry about that. My mind does not easily shut off — and my heart, it never rests.

Do you know what the opposite of fear is?

The opposite of fear is reverencerespect or awe for somebody or something.

In terms of autism, I am learning to show reverence — not toward the developmental delay itself, but toward my son. I revere Luca. I hold him in high regard. I have learned to understand and even appreciate the way his mind is wired.

And I am here to tell you: my son is not broken.

No child is broken.

No matter the diagnosis, our children are not broken.

Two good friends of mine have young children who have received different diagnoses, and I have a handful of IG friends who are in the process of receiving a diagnoses for their young children. We meet each other through the celebration of milestones and the little-big joys; but most often, we meet each other with heavy hearts and tears. These tears come from a place of fear, of feeling inadequate and under-qualified to humbly serve these children we’ve been given.

These tears also come from you.

You being the typical person, unable to identify with or understand a diagnosis until it has been handed to you or your child. Please understand the respect with which I am saying this. Until August 3, 2011, I, too, was a typical person, unable to identify with or understand the diagnosis of autism. Nearly three years later, I am not better than you — in no way, shape or form.

I am more aware, more knowledgeable, more accepting.

I simply have new experiences that have challenged and blessed me, and given me a different perspective than what I once had.

And I want you to know that our children, no matter the diagnosis, are blessings. They are gifts. And either way, we don’t deserve them, you and I.

Please don’t look at me with fear and pity in your eyes. 

Please don’t tell me my son has a handicap or a mental illness. He is not ill; he is well.

Please don’t disregard my son, or any other child’s, ability to do anything.

Please, show our children reverence — they are indeed fighting a battle that neither you nor I will ever know.

For so long, I’ve fought for awareness. Autism awareness. But what about acceptance? Why is not OK for so many people to just accept? To sit and soak in all the goodness that seeps into our lives on a daily basis?

Soak it up, friends.

As for fear? I choose to rejoice instead of fear. There is, as for many things, a time and place — a moment of acceptance when it is healthy to realize and deal with fears. But love. And joy. Peace. And hope. These are worth living for. These are worth fighting for. These are the fibers that need to be woven into our children, through us.

This post originally appeared on AllisonTrowbridge.com.

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