Thursday, October 14, 2010

Apologizing for Accepting Your Child, Quirks and All, Why?

The latest post on The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism has left me well…thinking. The author has written some insightful and deeply felt thoughts about her son’s autism. One of the topics she mentions is that she accepts him for who he is, all quirks and idiosyncrasies included.  The truth is I have been saying the same thing about the boys for some time. They are who they are. There comes a time when you have to just accept who your children are and how they are going to be. Quite frankly I think this is totally in line and not in contradiction with having the right to define yourself. (Read this post and you will understand the differences I am alluding to.)

Here is the kicker from this morning’s revelation. As I said I have been saying for some time now that collegeman and HSB are who they are. They have their foibles and their issues to work on. They have their challenges and their gifts. They also have their quirks and idiosyncrasies. Now everything put together in one basket, knowing HSB it has to be a video game adorned basket and for collegeman it has to be a human rights adorned basket, makes them who they are. They are unique individuals as is every one of the over 6 billion persons on planet Earth.

The interesting thing about this topic that I have noticed is that we tend to get defensive about these revelations. That at times its almost as if parents of autistic children are apologizing for recognizing who their children happen to be. I have never met the parent of a neurotypical child who feels the need to apologize for whom their child happens to be or make a big show of it either. Yes, you will find a moron parent who apologizes to the world because their offspring did not attend an ivy league college, but that is not the majority of people, just a lot of parents near where I live. Yes, that is a post for another day, or not depending on whether anyone cares about the elitist pole up your butt people that inhabit certain areas of the country.

The parents of neurotypical children tend to just accept life as it happens. They know that their children will become adults and that eventually they will go their own way. That their personalities are who they are and that they have shaped, or not shaped, the character of their children. They just expect this to happen. They know that their children will lead a certain type of life in a certain type of way. They expect certain age-related issues and they expect the rhythm of their children’s lives to be very similar to what had come before for generations, only with a lot more technology. So when one of these parents say, “Johnny, is so and so,” no one person bats an eye. They don’t’ apologize for it. It is just a normal part of their lives.

But for some reason we as parents of autistic children need to apologize for accepting our children for who they are. I don’t know why that is. Is it because our children are so different? Their quirks have them stand out in a crowd? So what? It is their quirks that make them who they are. It is their quirks that give them the personalities that we love. If they were child prodigies that would make them stand out in a crowd, but I have never seen any of those parents apologize for who their children happen to be. In fact their children’s idiosyncrasies are celebrated (also have you ever heard of a prodigy that didn’t have some kind of quirk. I mean look at Taylor Swift. You can’t tell me that that beautiful brilliant young woman doesn’t have some quirks somewhere, you can't be that talented and not be different.)

I don’t really know why we as parents of autistic children need to tell everyone how we accept our children for who they are, when neurotypicals never have to voice that at all. Is it insecurity on our part? Are we afraid that by accepting them we won’t push them properly and miss out on a therapy that could make their lives easier? Do we need reassurance  that by accepting our children it doesn’t mean we have given up helping our children, but it means just the opposite. Not sure where the insecurity comes from and why in fact it is there. Are we just still scared all the time for our children? Afraid that one misstep we take will doom them and take from them the life we are trying to help them create for themselves?

Until this post I had never told anyone that I realized that collegeman and HSB are who they are quirks, idiosyncrasies and all, except for my mother. Never really thought it was relevant to people’s understanding of how I deal with them and why we do what we do at times for them and the standards we hold them to. But now I see that it is very relevant. I know many people think that I spend all my time trying to change who they are, which is not true at all. I spend my time trying to help them be all that they can be (yes like the Marines).  I am just not sure why we parents of autistic children feel the need to apologize for it in some way.  I have to admit I find it rather odd for you see my boys are my heroes.

Until next time,