Tag Archives | choice

If you could turn back time and undo the Autism

If I could snap my fingers and become nonautistic I would not do so. Autism is part of who I am. – Temple Grandin

This topic tends to come up a lot and tends to cause some tension between people when really it shouldn’t. The truth is that, just as much as Autism is a spectrum, so are the thoughts on whether or not to cure Autism.

I mean, obviously there’s really only two answers.. yes or no… but the reasons for these answers are quite wide ranging. And none of them are wrong.

Understanding the reasoning

There are some people who benefit from the way their brain is wired, becoming known as savants. They are extremely gifted in math, music, art… usually one specific thing out of a wide range of abilities.

However, that’s not usually the case. Still though, many Autistics and even parents of Autistics feel that there is nothing to cure. Autism is a part of who they are, who they will be and is perfectly natural. Yes, it may present some challenges but removing their Autism would be like removing their sense of humour, or their unique way of thinking.

Sadly, this isn’t true for everyone. For a very large part of the Autism community, Autism is a very real disability that renders a person unable to speak, function… live an independent life. It can make a person very aggressive, fearful and even, as some would call it, locked in their own world.

For people like that, for the people who have to make the hard decisions on behalf of those people… it’s quite easy to understand why they would want a cure. It’s quite understandable that they’d see very little to no benefit of having Autism and would never hesitate for a second in wishing they could go back and take it away.

These are just some examples, as I said, there’s actually a LOT of reasons for answering yes or no.

None of this is really new to anyone, however it should be pointed out that a big part of understanding and acceptance also includes doing so with each other. We can’t judge and condemn those who would choose differently from us when their circumstances are very different from our own.

When my wife asked me

who am iRecently, my wife asked me “If you could turn back time and go back to under Cameron’s Autism, would you?”

My first reaction was, and I’m sure if you’ve read my blog for a while, you’d agree with this: “Have you met me?”

The truth is though, from a strictly curiosity stand point… like, let’s say there was a preview button, where you could simply see how different your child would/could be without Autism… I’d love to hit that button and see.

But would I remove the Autism? Or, to put it another way… would I take Autism away from him?

The answer is no. I would not.

I believe, for me and for Cameron anyway, that he’s actually doing very well and will likely have a good life ahead of him. It will likely be filled with his fair share of struggles and maybe even some very depressing moments… I know my life was… but I think he’ll turn out just fine.

The thing is, I do believe that Autism is a part of who he is. It shapes how he sees others and the world around him. It shapes every bit of the input that he takes in as well as his output.

It will give him unique insights into the world, a very different point of view.

For better or worse, the struggles and turmoils that he’ll very likely have to endure, thanks to that Autism, can make him a stronger person.

With proper guidance, lots of love and tons of encouragement… he can learn to focus the negatives into positives, in time. He can learn that all the greats throughout history saw the world differently, it was that gift that made them great.

And those people were outcasts, they were seen as different.

Would I go back and remove Autism from him if I could? No. He has the potential to be great with or without Autism. He has the potential to overcome any adversity that life presents him.

You may feel differently than I do, I can respect that. It’s a personal opinion that each of us makes for different reasons.

My answer comes with a responsibility

I say no because I believe that Cameron can be a wonderful human being because his potential is limitless.

I also say no because I dedicate my life to being there to help him up when he’s down, to help him see the positives in the negatives, to help him recognize the opportunities and to help him learn how to break down the walls that try to get in his way.

And I know that my wife, his teachers and the people that we have in our lives will support Cameron in the same way.

The reality, the way I see it

One day his dog will die, one day he’ll have his heart broken, one day he’ll feel very alone, one day he’ll have financial trouble….  one day, me wife and I won’t be here any more.

And as much I’d like to protect him from all of that… I can’t. And I shouldn’t. These things are a part of life and these things can build character or ruin a person. They’re the trials of life.

And as much as they suck, they’re a part of life.. and for Cameron, that includes Autism too. For all it’s benefits and even for all the incredible drawbacks, it is what it is and protecting him from it would be taking away a part of who he is and who he has yet to become.

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Mother’s Day – Remembering how I got here

This is the first part of a two part series. This post, I dedicate to my mother who gave me the strength and experiences that I needed to be able to handle what ever might come may way later in life. It turns out that it is a good thing she did. For that and all she did, I will always be eternally grateful.

I have one of those minds that remembers the craziest things… things from when I was 2, things that everyone else has forgotten… I remember where the scar on my knee came from even though I got it when I wasn’t even old enough to walk.

When you have a mind like that, you have to realize, everything has a lasting effect on you. Everything. Some things have more or less of an effect than others but it’s all there… all the time.

I’d like to tell you about the one thing that sticks out the most in my mind. It wasn’t from my toddler years. It was from my teen years… you know, those rebellious, often depressing, very overwhelming years.

The back story

My mother was what you would probably call “the problem child.” When your mother tells you that they’ve done it all, that there isn’t anything you could do that they hadn’t already done… well, in my mother’s case, it’s probably more true than for most.

She went on to become a paramedic and then a nurse and now works for the city in a government job… she’s done quite well for herself despite what may have been a “troubled” youth.

I remember

When I was a teenager and friends (and not friends) were drinking or even doing drugs…. I was a rather depressed kid. I didn’t do any of that stuff and had no interest in it. However, that didn’t stop friends from trying to convince me to “lighten up.”

What my mother told me, which might not be what most mothers would say, really stuck with me. I’m going to paraphrase it but this is the general idea:

I’m not saying you should try those things but I’m not going to tell you not to either. You’re a very smart boy. I’ve done just about everything that you could do so I know that you’d be alright if you did too. If you really want to try things, I won’t stop you. Just be safe and know I’m always here if you need me.

Ok, I paraphrased a lot.. it was a good talk and it wouldn’t make sense if I told you exactly how it went without context. But I think you get the idea.

Freedom to fail

What my mother gave me was the freedom to fail… at the time, I thought “How strange. Why would a mother tell her son to go ahead and do stuff that he could get addicted to and then… who knows what would happen?”

It wasn’t until years later that I realized that the freedom to fail is the exact the same thing as the freedom to live.

We all know that telling a teenager not to do something is the same thing as pushing them to do it. It’s not until you are given a choice that could shape the rest of your life that you realize a few things:

  1. You are in charge of your destiny. You’ve had control all along… it’s just been pointed out to you.
  2. Others have failed before you. You can follow to gain the same experiences or learn from theirs. It’s your choice and if you’re smart about it, you will gain valuable experiences either way.
  3. You are your own person. You are going to have to make up your mind on your own.
  4. You can only help guide, you can not control. That includes your own children. If your intentions have been good and you’ve done your best, have faith in their decisions.

My mom did have faith in me, even when I did not. Faith that I’d do just fine no matter what decision I made. That’s because she had gotten me to that point where she knew I’d be alright no matter what decision I made.

And in giving me that choice, made a huge impact on who I am today. I see my own children in a way that I know is very different than I would have if I had never had that talk with my mother. I’m not sure if it would be better or worse exactly, just different.

Children of my own

As you know, I have one child with Autism and one without. Would I have the strength, patience and understanding that I have now without my mother having faith in me that day? Possibly, it may have been a little different though.

Autism is one of those things that makes your parenting experience unlike anyone elses. Parenting in general is hard enough but when milestones are missed and all the other challenges that come with Autism, you find that you need to be so much more than the parent that everyone else told you that you’d have to be. It’s so much harder, so much more challenging.

For me though, it’s ok. I learned a long time ago that I have the freedom to fail. Not to fail my children, but to not have the answers. To not be able to be strong every single day of a year’s worth of sleepness nights. To get angry when other parents judge me because my son has a meltdown in public.

It’s not a thicker skin that I’ve developed… it’s that I have a decision, I’ve made a decision. That no matter which decision I make, it’ll be alright. That’s the freedom to fail… that’s the freedom to live.

The world still scares me and I still want to protect my children but I now know that they will be fine. When the time comes, when they are uncertain of themselves… I’ll have faith in them. I know they’ll make the right choice.

The Lesson

She didn’t say it, but she taught me the most valuable lesson I have learned in my entire life, simply by giving me the choice:

  1. I make my own decisions
  2. She has faith in me
  3. If I’m smart, it’ll work out alright no matter what I decide
  4. The freedom to fail is the freedom to live

Love you mom. Happy Mother’s Day!

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