In the spirit of April being Autism Acceptance month I feel compelled to share a little something as I am at the beginning of this journey myself with my family. On March 17th what my husband and I already suspected about our son Matthias was confirmed. We received a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). From the early signs that we saw in Matthias to every step along the way that led to this “on paper” confirmation, I felt this cloud of uncertainty. Something I have learned in this process thus far is that our society is absolutely IGNORANT when it comes to autism… and so was I.
As a parent facing the unknown with a young child, you get your hands on any kind of information possible… both good and bad. Every resource tells you what you should be thinking and feeling and how you should react once the diagnosis comes. It seems that the path for a parent of a child on the spectrum should take is the following — curiosity → concern → anxiety →fear → guilt → settling → and finally some twisted form of acceptance, most of which are fueled by ignorance. You should feel a sense of loss, they say. It’s only normal, after all. You should allow yourself a period of grieving over the future you envisioned for your child passing away. In an article from The Examiner they state that Autism Acceptance sounds something like this.
“I accept the fact that my son has autism. I will never be happy or content about it, but I accept that there’s nothing I did to cause it, and probably nothing I could have done to prevent it. Now I need to move past the grief and work towards our futures together.”
Throughout all the ups and downs and the Molotov cocktail of emotions that have accompanied me on this journey so far, I have never felt the need to grieve the fact that my son is autistic. What I have felt is the need to grieve for the world that we live in today and all of its ignorance towards individuals that are on the spectrum that tries to put a limit on what these amazing individuals can do. I do not fear for the future for my son. He can do and become whatever his beautiful heart desires. Autism is not a label, it’s a part of what makes him who he is. He’s not damaged, he sees the world through a different lens and that’s okay. He is different, not less.
In retrospect, I think about friends that I had as a child who were autistic and how little I understood… or worse how little I cared to reach out and remedy my ignorance. I was only aware of one kind of “normal”, but now I am learning more everyday and I don’t want to stop.
We recently had the wonderful experience of getting to take part in this amazing organization A.Skate which serves individuals on the Autism Spectrum through skateboarding as a form of therapy. We went to our first skate clinic in Austin, TX on April 6th and Matthias had a blast.
Here are some resources for you if you want to learn more about ASD and Neurodiversity.
To begin, here are some myths about autism.
I would also recommend this book if you want to remedy your ignorance too 🙂
It’s Autism Acceptance Month.