The past few weeks have been filled with a number of amazing stories on autism. Stories that were insulting, inspiring, and infuriating.
I know that I may be in the minority because I do not sit and wonder why my son has autism. I am confident I know why. Sam was born at 24 weeks. That means the majority of his brain development happened outside of the womb. Knowing that – it is no surprise to me that some of the brain connections might not have formed properly.
Because of that, I have not had to waste my energy or emotional time on the “whys”. (I did plenty of that wondering why he had to be born so early.) I also have not joined the anti-vaccination crowd and blamed Sam’s autism on vaccinations that will protect him and those of his friends from preventable diseases. (NOTE: If you want to argue with me about vaccinations – don’t. I have spent enough time in NICUs and PICUs with immune compromised children. The fact that you are willing to endanger any of them makes my blood boil. So lets leave it at that.)
Instead, I have used my time to come to terms with the fact that Sam is autistic. Notice that I didn’t say “Sam has autism”. That was a very deliberate choice in words.
Saying Sam “has autism” implies that this is something he can be cured of. Like cancer. Saying that Sam “is autistic” means that autism is a part of him. Just like his eyes are blue.
That doesn’t mean I will not do everything in my power to help Sam overcome his autism. He is in speech therapy. He is in occupational therapy. He is in ABA therapy. He has completed FloorTime therapy. He eats a diary free and gluten free diet. (A note on the diet – this was at the suggestion of his pediatric gastroenterologist almost a year before his autism diagnosis.)
But even as I help Sam find the tools to communicate and connect with the world around him, I am not trying to change him. I love him for all that he is. I love his quirks. I love his ability to vanish into music. I love his smile. I love his laugh. I would not change a hair on his head – and that includes all the autistic hairs.
And that is because of the simple fact that those autistic hairs are a part of who Sam is. He is not bothered by being autistic… so why should I.
Now- don’t even get me started on the AOL CEO, Tim Armstrong, and his totally insulting comment about “Distressed Babies”.
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