My Autistic Son's Life: Not Less Valuable

BlogHer Original Post
  • Be out in the community to the best of your and your child's tolerance, help make visibility of and participation by people and children with disabilities commonplace.
  • Be aware that people like George and Leo cannot always speak up when family members show signs of instability. Befriend people with autism, spend time with them, look out for them.
  • And speak out loudly and lovingly about accepting our children for who they are, as did Brenda Rothman of Mama Be Good:

"Disability opened doors for me and my son because it opened my mind. I saw choices where I'd seen none before. That other path, that typical path, was set in stone: best schools, best extracurricular, best arts program, best courses, best grades, best university, best job. I couldn't see that all these 'bests' were my anxiety, my trying to control the chaos of life, the ways I was narrowing the experiences life can offer because I was too afraid."

I want life to be easier for Leo. And it can be -- if as a society we refuse to view my son and people with disabilities as others, as not-people, as those people. Leo is one of us, part of society. He is a handsome, silly California boy. Treating him and his autism like a lightning bolt of bad luck, and autism parents as though we are fighting a poignant, tragic battle helps no one -- certainly not people like George Hodgins.

And I don't want what we're conditioned to consider a "perfect" child, or an easy child. I want my giddy, sweet, sneaky Leo. I want his infuriating, clever, exuberant sisters. I want the entire world to stand behind all three of my kids, never questioning their dignity as human beings.

I especially want my children alive, and in my arms.

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Zoe & Rob Gross at George Hodgin's Vigil. Photo © Steve Silberman, used on BlogHer.com with permission

Photo: Autistic self-advocate Zoe Gross at the vigil she organized for George Hodgins on March 15th. Picture © Steve Silberman, used on BlogHer with permission.

March 30 has been declared an evening of Candlelit Vigils for Disabled People Murdered by Relatives and Caregivers. Please see Facebook to join or arrange a vigil in your area.

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A recent MacWorld video about Leo, in which our home life, parenting decisions, and the Perfect Child myth are discussed:

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