Saturday, 16 November 2013
By now, you have probably heard and read the latest controversy surrounding Autism Speaks. I refuse to give their particular brand of venom any creedence so I shall not link to it.
Here, I am going to tell Autism Speaks what autism really is, to our family anyway, as I cannot speak for anyone else.
It's a pity Autism Speaks don't subscribe to that philosophy also.
This is autism
There is a 4 year old boy that lights up a room with his smile. His laughter is infectious, his hugs are tight and his kisses are wet!
There is a 4 year old boy that loves to jump. He loves to go on a swing. He loves to go swimming and splash about in the water.
There is a 4 year old boy who has big blue eyes that twinkle when you read him a story. He hears it twice and can then tell me the story back. He knows his alphabet, his numbers, his colours and the name of all the planets in the solar system. He knows that a pterodactyl is a flying dinosaur. He can tell the difference between an ostrich and a flamingo.
There is a 4 year old boy that adores nature. He sees every petal on every flower. He sees the beauty of the rain. He loves the wind on his face. He loves being warm in the sun.
There is a 4 year old boy that loves his family and shows that love. He shows it in his eyes. He tells us 'I love you.' Yes, he can speak too. And he is toilet trained.
There is a 4 year old boy that loves watching Disney films. He loves pizza. He loves grapes. He loves chocolate. He loves crisps.
There is a 4 year old boy that sees the beauty in life. Things that others ignore or take for granted.
There is a 4 year old boy that is a human being. He breathes. He bleeds. He laughs. He cries. He hiccups. He runs. He plays. He eats. He sleeps. He loves. He imagines. He lives.
Yes. He LIVES. He does not merely 'exist.' He has a life and he lives it. Noisily, happily and fully.
It may not be the life others expect, but it is just as happy and just as fulfilling.
You see, this 4 year old boy is my son. He is autistic. He fights every day to understand this world which refuses to accept him. A world that refuses to acknowledge that he has so much to offer. He has as much potential as any other 4 year old. In fact, maybe even more, as his brain can hold so much information. Who knows, he may even be the one to find the cure for cancer. Will the world refuse to accept that cure because it was discovered by someone who may have difficulty making friends? Or because he may need help to get across the city on a bus?
There is a 4 year old boy. He holds my heart. He is my pride and my joy.
I am his mother. I am not broken and exhausted. I am blessed. Blessed to have this sunshine in my life. Fortunate to see the things he accomplishes. Proud of the beautiful, clever and funny young child I helped create.
He amazes us every day. If we listen to you, Autism Speaks, he might as well not be here.
Try telling that to all the people whose lives he touches daily. Try telling that to him.
He has as much right to be here as anyone else. He has as much right to enjoy life as anyone else.
He is not a burden. He is not lost. He is right here, with his family, where he is meant to be. He will never be lost, because he knows just who he is and how precious and wonderful he is. He knows he is loved and accepted by those who matter most. He is not a burden. He is not diseased. He is not hopeless.
He is autistic. He is my son. He is autism.
So, Autism Speaks, you are very, very wrong. So very hurtfully, nastily and sadly wrong.
Wednesday, 6 November 2013
My son, Caidan, is autistic. I have long since accepted this and embraced it. His autism is as much a part of him as his brown hair. As much a part of him as his laugh. As much a part of him as his little toe which has no nail on it. Yes, there are other facets to Caidan that are not autism, but without autism he would be an entirely different child. I don't want an entirely different child, I want Caidan as Caidan is supposed to be and he is supposed to be autistic.
I really do not care whether Caidan's stimming is deemed as not 'socially acceptable.' I really do not care if his squealing in Morrison's bothers other people. I really do not care if his hand flapping and jumping up and down in Matalan bothers other people. Caidan is autistic, it is what he does.
What I do bother about is the fact that society (in general and not necessarily individually) expects my son to change his behaviours so that society doesn't feel uncomfortable. That bothers me a lot.
My son is autistic. 1 in 100 people in the UK are autistic. I say it is time SOCIETY changed it's behaviour.
Difference should not be frowned upon, nor mocked and it is certainly nothing to be scared of.
Everyone is different. Who says what 'normal' is supposed to be anyway? I have my own quirks and little idiosyncrasies, just as everyone has, and mine are not the same as yours, are they? So that means we are ALL different. So what is this 'normal' that society expects my son to conform to?
My son is autistic. I am determined that he fulfils his huge potential and I will do all I can to help him do so. What I WILL NOT do, is try and 'normalise' him just so society can feel better. Society sucks, let me tell you. Society is exclusive and inward looking. Society needs to buck up it's ideas and move into the 21st Century.
My son is autistic. I will not change him just to accommodate others feelings and sensitivity.
My son is autistic and society is just going to have to learn to deal with that.
I am not going to change my son for the world, but I am sure as hell going to try and change the world for my son and I will continue to do so until my last breath.
And you, Society, are just going to have to learn to deal with that too.