. . . be heard.
It has been over a year since my son received his formal diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. When my husband and I were told, I cried.
I cried because I didn’t know what autism is. Sure, the doctor explained it, but she did so in terms of the things that Philip couldn’t do. That was, after all, how he had been diagnosed, by cataloguing the developmental milestones he had missed combined with the behaviors that aren’t “typical.” So, while I understood that Philip’s brain works differently, I could only see all of the problems that this would cause. So, I cried.
I cried until I remembered that Philip is a beautiful child. “Look at those long eyelashes,” the cashiers will say. “You’re son is adorable,” my blog readers will comment. And then I see him, when he is smiling or rocking to music or concentrating on a toy or after his bath when his hair is neatly combed, and I marvel at how handsome he is.
I began to learn what I could about autism. I watched documentaries, read articles and blog posts. At first, I read everything. That’s the way I do it: research a subject until I know as much as I can.
As I read, though, I realized I needed to make a choice. My first option was to fix my attention on learning about the possible causes of autism, to focus on the stories of parents who are struggling to raise an autistic child and to learn about research into possible cures.
My second option was to read not only the stories of parents, but to follow the writings of adult autistics. Within this option, I could read stories of accepting autism, even celebrating autism.
Choosing that second option has not only made me happier, I’d like to think that I’m making it possible for Philip to be happier, too. Following that second path means that Philip won’t someday realize I’ve been trying to fix him. Instead, he’ll know that I’m doing everything I can to prepare him for life on his own terms.
I didn’t mean to write so much. Let me go back to the title: Autistic People Should . . . Today, there is a flash blog event. Autism advocates are all writing posts with this same title. They are tagging their posts #autisticpeopleshould. They are sending out positive messages of autism acceptance to counteract negative press, discrimination and hate.
So, like I started with, autistic people should be heard. I’m a parent. I’m only an expert on my son. To learn about autism, you should read about from the experts: autistics. Below are links to a sampling of articles that are a part of today’s flash blog. Read them. Because autistic people should be heard.
Amy Sequenzia at the Autism Women’s Network
Jodie van de Wetering at Letters from Aspergia
Kim Elmore & Jeannie Bennett at The Awe Sea
I’ll try to link more as I get a chance to read more.
I’m linking up with the Yeah Write Weekend Moonshine Grid to spread the word of the “Autistic People Should . . .” flash blog.