|The sweet smile of Elijah|
Elijah, as many of you may know, has been diagnosed with high functioning autism. In light of recent happenings, I've felt very convicted to write on a specific topic concerning this diagnosis. I have a confession to make. It's one not many parents of an autistic child are willing to admit. But here goes...before I had an autistic child, I had many opinions about autism. Here are some of the things I thought. It must be bad parenting. It's soo over-diagnosed. The mom probably did drugs while pregnant. That child isn't actually autistic, it's just an excuse so the parents can explain away bad behavior. I'm sure I thought other things as well. These are just some that come to mind.
|Me and my boy|
I tell you this so you know that I understand if you have these thoughts about my son. Let me be firm about something though, none of those things are true. Sure they may be in some cases, but those are the minority, NOT the majority. My point here is not to complain. I want to inform.
Lets look at this from a parenting perspective. If you are a parent, do you ever feel any of the following things: judged, overwhelmed, incompetent, sad, unprepared, failure? I thought so. Now think of the face of a friend affirming those things. Terrible, right? Well I have a little boy who is wonderful, but I've had to come to the grueling decision to admit that something is different about him. In doing so I've had several professionals agree with my decision and say, "Yes, your little guy is not neurotypical. Something is different about him."
|Typical Elijah. Most kids his age are scared of the dark or monsters, but not him. He's scared of a space storm.|
Okay here's the bulk of what I'm trying to convey here. When you tell me you don't think my son actually has autism, it isn't just your opinion and it isn't a compliment. You are insulting my parenting. You are telling me I don't know my son like you do. You are passing judgement on me. You are calling me a failure. You are telling me that I'm doing something wrong. I know you don't intend any of this, but that's what it sounds like from my end.
Here is the thing, I forgive you. I know you don't get it like I do. You don't spend every waking moment with this beautiful, complex, emotional, sweet, and yes difficult little boy. I do. I know him. I know he has autism. That doesn't define him, but it is part of him. Please know that we need your love and support. Your friendships (even if you say all the wrong things) and the joy of God are what keep us going in the dark days. I'm just pleading with you, think before you speak. :)
|Just keep swimming.|
I realize this post is particularly harsh sounding coming from me. My prayer is that it will be received the way I intended it to be received. My heart breaks when I hear these things. I write from brokenness and desperation, not from a place of anger. My struggle is not mine alone either. If you know a parent of an autistic child, love them and support them with words that reflect love and support. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Also to all my amazing friends and family, thank you for being willing to learn with me how to lift me up when I need your support. You will never know how grateful I am.