There is truly no end to negativity surrounding people with disabilities. When it is your child, no matter how many times you encounter new people and their reactions to your kid, you feel like you were hit with a brick. Sometimes I shake my head and think, are people really that out of touch? Are people really that insensitive or ignorant? I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt; maybe they don’t know much about autism, maybe they have not experienced it first hand. Here’s what I do know: you do not have to have something first hand to be kind. We just saw the new Cinderella movie on Friday. I will admit I was the only mom with teenage and pre-teenage boys in the theater, but Bryan loves all movies and Jason is a good sport. It was pretty good for an old story, (Lauren Henschel-the actress looks very much like you do but not as pretty) and the mom’s message, before she dies (all moms die in Disney movies) is to have courage and be kind.This may now be my new mantra. I have always been a fierce protector of Bryan but having courage is a good one. I do have the courage to speak up for my boy, to educate, raise awareness, and let people know what is and what is not ok.
Here are some simple rules, as I see them, when faced with the unfamiliar autism spectrum disorder.
1. Do not judge my parenting skills. You have no idea how you will behave if you have not slept well in days and your large teenage kid is screaming and pinching you and his sibling.
2. Do not judge his future. You have no idea how smart he is, what he is capable of, or where he will land. If you do, call Diane Sawyer and get your ass on TV as a genius.
3. Do not judge him by his disorder, open your mind to his charm. He is not the bad behaviors, that is only a component of him, I guarantee he is 10x smarter than you can ever imagine and is sweeter than sugar.
4. Do not judge his communication skills as the barometer of his level of understanding. Receptive learning is much easier than speaking.
Since I try to learn from every situation, I have learned this. I love autism! It pushes me beyond my comfort zone as a person, it challenges me every day to dig deeper, to learn, to grow and to push. I am where I am in my life not in spite of it but because of it. I know who I want to be with and how I want to handle myself. Thank you Bryan for teaching me the ultimate you can’t judge a book by its cover.
So I say to all of my peeps out there if you can’t have courage to deal with autism, at least be kind to the parents.