Friday, May 10, 2013

Never Give Up and Never Give In

Twenty years ago we were told that there were no guarantees for our oldest son. He was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. He was terribly speech delayed. He couldn't interact socially at age level. He had begun to have obsessions and meltdowns. He was hyperlexic (even though he did understand what he read.) He needed structure and security. He worried and perseverated. He didn't hug or kiss.

The way the doctors made it sound was that there was no future for our child. And almost every psychiatric and social work professional, when he was young, would reiterate the same scenario. Well needlesstosay, I fired every last one of them and found people who understood that CM1 was going to have a future. I found educational professionals who understood how bright my son is and found ways to access that intelligence. I found a village that knew my son was allowed to have a future even if the psychiatric literature said it was impossible.

CM1 will be graduating next Saturday from college. He will be receiving a bachelor of arts degree in history with a minor in holocaust studies. He has a 3.5 GPA. Even better yet, he has grown into a loving, caring, funny, kind youngman who likes to hug you when he is happy. He is thinking about his future and what he wants to do with his life. He is making plans and thinking about the world around him. He has opinions. He has goals. He is unafraid and fearless in the face of his future, sort of like most 22-year-olds.

i have to say that the nice aspect of these graduation robes is that those receiving bachelor degrees get to wear academic/scholar hoods. Unlike with graduate hoods the colors are not indicative of their major but only the school colors. I think it adds a nice extra bit of pomp and circumstance to the event.

CM1 does not want to go to his graduation ceremony. Not only does he not care to sit there for several hours listening to some stranger pontificate about his future, but he isn't done with school so he thinks graduation is a waste of time. I won't push him. It's not important to upset him. The accomplishment of college graduation is however something to be acknowledged and celebrated. We are going to celebrate with a special trip to his favorite restaurant. He already had that rather nice size glass of champagne when he finished his last exam. 

He begins his masters program in computer science this summer. 

Now CM1 did promise me that he would let me take pictures of him in his graduation regalia. Yeah, its a parent thing and one hell of a huge victory. A victory against the naysayers and the know-it-alls who would have pushed our son into another future. One where he had no voice in his life.

Having been involved in the autism community now for several decades, I am well aware of how lucky our sons happen to be. That the therapies and the drugs and the educational interventions really did work for them. 

But I think in the end, every child with autism is a clean slate. To make a decision about a person's future when they are 2,3, 13 or an adult is hubris at best and incompetence at its worst. No one has knowledge of the future and no one knows what will happen when it comes to science, therapy and supports. To disregard a person, to see the disability first and not the human being is quite frankly a sin before God

Every person with autism is entitled to every bit of help to be the best that they can be. In today's world we find that the old wives-tales about autistic individuals are ignorant and prejudicial. Being non-verbal is not an indication of lesser-intellect. Being overly sensitive to stimuli is not an indication of further mental health problems. Being obsessive and structure oriented does not mean they cannot function in the real world, even if they need help in some way. Being literal, not able to deal with sarcasm or abstract ideas does not mean the person cannot reason, think and analyze.

Never let anyone tell you that your child cannot accomplish a goal or accomplish something they enjoy. There are ways to give your child what they need and allow them to be all that they can be. There are ways to ensure that your child lives a happy life. 

Never give up and never give in...don't ever let anyone tell you your child can't. There is always a way that they can. I know for a fact that this is the truth, because my sons are the embodiment of that proof.