I find this quite difficult to write, partially because it’s fresh in my mind and partially because I don’t want to even pretend to downplay the difficulty and frustration in dealing with Autism. It’s such a difficult disorder to have and to have close to you that I literally can’t find the words to explain it as well as I would like for you to understand it.
The thing is that today I had to spend half a day at Sick Kids Hospital where my son, Cameron, had to undergo some allergy testing, specifically for penicillin. The thing about a place like Sick Kids is that you meet so many wonderful people, everyone is open and caring and there’s so just so many smiles and cute little faces. They really go out of their way to welcome you in to a place that, in all honesty, they wish you never had to visit.
You see, you visit a place like that and you see all those adorable smiling faces and talk to so many people and you quickly realize that… us Autism parents, we really don’t have it so bad.
You don’t have to be there for very long before you see a bald child with very dark circles around their eyes, or a child with no legs wheeling around in a wheelchair, or parents sitting arm in arm, consoling each other as they cry so hard that they can’t even talk. These places truly work magic as you feel happy, welcome and close to everyone all the while you have tragedy all around you.
I don’t know the stories of these people in particular, I just know that I saw them today and I feel great sorrow for them despite not knowing… I know that, no matter how bad it’s been for me, I still couldn’t imagine what it must be like for them.
Then you hear the stories about these places, the stories where parents happily give birth to a new bundle of life only to discover that it already has cancer, and that it likely won’t survive. Still, they are determined so they go to a place like Sick Kids where the child moves in, where the parents move in… where against all odds, the child out lasts the predictions, the child grows and thrives. But after years of beating the odds, they finally succumb and ultimately leave the parents without a house, without a job, without savings and without the child that they’ve fought so hard for.
There are literally hundreds of stories like that and each and every single one is as tragic as the last and I look at my son sitting next to me, playing the Mario game that this amazing place has provided to put a smile on the faces of every child that goes in there and I think… is it really so bad?
You see these nurses and doctors with a smile on their face, every single one of them… they all greet you pleasantly, they all are genuinely happy to see you and your child and you know, you just know that yesterday, they day before, the week before…. some time, not so long ago, they’ve watched an innocent and very loving little child die. They’ve done what I simply can not imagine having to do even once, and they’ve done it as often as I’ve updated my blog, more even! And they will continue to do it because as hard as it is, it’s worth it to see the children that don’t die. The children that beat the odds, the children that can simply smile back, the children that can go home and just be healthy.
I don’t want you to think that I’m downplaying the seriousness of Autism, or any other disorder, disease or anything else for that matter. But when you see, when you really see just how tragic it really can be for some people, for some parents and some children, I can’t help but think… maybe I don’t really have it so bad after all.