Friday, November 5, 2010

A message for parents

Autism is not a fatal diagnosis.

I know a lot of parents are scared to death that their child, born or unborn, might be autistic.  They're frightened their only son will be stuck in a mental institution for the rest of his life, that they'll never see their daughter's wedding day, that their family will be turned upside down or marriage destroyed by having a child who requires so much time, effort and money to be helped along with a developmental condition which can never be cured.

A person with autism can still be happy.  It doesn't mean they'll never go to college, never hold a job, never have a relationship, never be a productive member of society.  Perhaps in the past those were things told to parents of children with ASDs and some doctors today might still say it, but today it isn't necessarily true.

Your child might not be the next Temple Grandin or Luke Jackson, but a neurotypical child might not be the next Brad Pitt or Hannah Montana.  Too often our society tells us kids have to become celebrities, that fame is the greatest goal.  I think that a better goal is becoming a good person and that it's also a more reachable goal, no matter what problems are thrown in the path.

My advice is this: Be there for your child.  Be their best friend, their confidant, their teacher, their shining star.  Celebrate the goals you reach, no matter how minor.  Every step forward, no matter how small, is still progress.  Resist the urge to compare and be competitive and instead focus on the childs' strengths on their own.  Be patient, be loving, be kind.

You are your childs' best advocate, especially if they can't speak for themselves.  You know them, know their needs, and need to push so they get the best treatment possible, the best support and care.

Your child might not be "normal", might never lead the life that is "typical", but they can be happy.  They can love and be loved, and that is the greatest thing in the world.

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