Oh. Oh, NO, you did not just say that: Am I trying to wish my autistic child away?
This past January, my husband and I had our dreams completely re-written when our (now nearly three-year-old) son PJ was diagnosed with Autism. Suddenly, the entire course of our life had changed, and we were navigating the new waters we found ourselves in as best we could.
This past spring, while PJ was in his room
peacefully napping alternately chatting to himself about all of the characters on Caillou and saying "Call now, call now!" (proof that, perhaps, he watches too much television), I took part in a Twitter chat hosted by USA Today on the topic of Autism. There were a number of experts in the field- physicians, researchers, advocates, etc.- who were handling tons of questions. As a whole, the chat was amazing- there were so many voices with so many useful, relevant things to say. I was especially happy to see users with Autism/Aspbergers/PDD/etc taking part. Seeing so many strong, intelligent, capable, autistic adults filled my heart- it's everything I want for PJ as he evolves into his own person.
At one point, I saw this question scroll by:
"Parents, do U wish UR autistic child didn't exist?"
Oh, hell, no. No, you did not just ask that.
I was restricted to the Twitter norm of 140 characters when I originally answered that question, but it annoyed me enough to want to answer it here.
My son has Autism. It is what it is. Yes, we treat it with therapy because we want our son to have every tool possible in order to access his full potential. That potential will be whatever it is- he may be president or he may live with his parents forever. PJ is funny, happy, smart, loving, and eats well enough to warm any Jewish mamas heart! He came with blonde hair, his fathers flat ass, my stubborn streak, and he came with Autism. To wish any of that away would be to wish my son away. I love every part of him because I love him.
That said, yes, I sometimes wish that Autism hadn't happened. There are a thousand and twelve other things I would rather do with my son then spend hours each week in therapy. I hate that there's risks of having another child with autism. I despise that the poor kid can't have a tantrum like a normal two-year old without whispers of "OMGTHEAUTISM!" I didn't sit under power lines, eating sushi and drinking Malibu and Diet's while pregnant going "C'mooooooooooooon, Autism!". I didn't want Autism and I won't even pretend to apologize for that.
Look, I didn't have a full understanding of how it works until the moment PJ was in my arms. While I was pregnant, I didn't want PJ to have any diseases or disabilities, noticeable moles, green eyes, curly hair, or an affinity for Ann Coulter. Then I met him, and even if he'd slid on out with a hardback version of Ann Coulter's latest piece of dreck in his slimy little hand, it would not have mattered.
This post is getting rambly in my fervent hope of getting down on paper the assertion that I haven't, don't, woudn't and can't ever wish my child didn't exsist because he's not the way I had imagined. That's not even possible, and I resented the question, even if it did come from someone who seemed truly lovely, and posted thoughtful comments throughout the discussion. Therapy, doctors visits, Early Intervention...I'm not trying to change the intricacies of who my son is. All my husband and I want is for PJ to be the best possible version of himself, whoever that may be.
Anyone else want to suggest that I am trying to wish my son away?
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