Tag Archives | einstein

Our Greatest Wish, Our Greatest Fear

We, like most parents of an Autistic child, have always had but one simple wish for our son… that he could be normal, or at least, have a normal life. We look towards the future and all we see is heartache, sorrow, misery and solitude. Even at the age of 4, we could already see how hard it would be for Cameron to have friends, to socialize, to be normal enough so that he won’t be teased.

We don’t know if he’ll ever live on his own, we don’t know if he’ll ever have a girl friend… much less a wife or family.

There is just so much we fear for him that it literally keeps us up at night talking about it. We are powerless to do anything about it but still we stay awake at night wondering…. what can we do?

However, as I lay awake last night thinking about it yet again, I began to realize that my greatest wish of having him be normal, was also my greatest fear. What if Einstein truly was an Autistic person? What if Tesla was Autistic? How many great minds through out history have changed the world all due to the fact that their brains were simply wired differently than a ‘normal’ persons? And what if someone had made them normal?

I got to thinking about how every parent sees unlimited potential in that new baby the first time they hold it in their hands… that tiny little bundle of new life could change the world, with the proper guidance and support.  Then I got to thinking about how there are some truly amazing Autistic people in the world.

I would like to share some examples of current day brilliant Autistic people:

Temple Grandin.
This woman did not speak until she was four, and hated most of her childhood but eventually went on to finish college with a doctorate and is a successful scientist and public speaker. She has designed more than half of all the slaughter house systems in the US because her methods are more humane and more efficient. And if you doubt me, Time has picked her as one of the 100 most influential people of 2010.

Stephen Wiltshire
Stephen lives in a world of his own, very quiet, very alone. He didn’t say his first words until he was 5 but when he turned 11, he drew a perfect picture of the city of London after having flown over it only one time. Since then, he’s been named the ‘Human Camera’ because he can successfully draw every detail of any city he flies over. Here is some a video of him flying over, and then drawing Rome, right down to the number of windows and columns. You can read more about him here.

You can read up on some more in this article and keep in mind, since Autism is still largely unknown to us, many others through out time could have been Autistic.

Now then, that brings me back to Cameron… if by some miracle, we found a way to make Cameron be ‘normal’, what might he be missing out on later in life. What might he have accomplished that we would be taking away from him.

I think back to the day I held him in my hands for the very first time and a whole world of potential and possibilities flowed through my mind, I thought he could grow up to be amazing! As he got older, he was compared to Einstein because of his delayed speech and I got to thinking… comparing him to Einstein, for better or worse, is really very amazing.

Now all I know is, if there’s greatness there, it can’t be forced or held back… only guided. And if it’s not there, that’s ok too. He’s already been compared to Einstein, that’s way better than I can say for myself.

I can’t wish for him to be normal and for him to be exceptional at the same time. That’s not fair to him, that’s not fair to me. He is who he is, and to me, he’s already very amazing.

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Autism Denial – Einstein Didn’t Talk Until He Was Four

In my experience, the most likely person to be in denial of a child having a disorder like Autism is the parents, primarily the father. However, in my family’s case, my wife and I never denied it for a moment, everyone else did!

At first our family, trying to be supportive, told us that some kids are just like that, some kids are just quirky, some kids just don’t talk until they’re older. When you observe each individual ‘sign’, they weren’t wrong. Every sign that a child has Autism can be viewed as just a quirky thing that some kids do, when you look at them individually. But when you group all the signs together to form a diagnosis, you realize that they’re not just quirks.

Unfortunately, no one really spent time with Cameron as much as we did so no one could really ever know. Being in denial was a matter of convenience for some because it also meant being supportive at the same time, helping us feel that there was nothing wrong. While that is appreciated, it’s not what we needed, as parents. What we needed more was information. “Awareness” means more than just knowing it exists.

The next case of denial came from the most unlikely of sources, our family doctor. He is an extremely smart and gifted doctor and has a wealth of knowledge in many areas, we are lucky to have found him. But when we brought up the word Autism with him, he immediately dismissed it, assuring us that his quirks and delayed speech are fine.. there was still a lot of time for him to “catch up”.

Did you know that Einstein didn’t talk until he was four? Did you know that he didn’t form complete sentences until he was nine? And he was fine! He was brilliant.

Perhaps, but I’d venture a guess that if Einstein were a child today, he’d be diagnosed with Autism. And the thing with Autism is, no two children are the same. maybe he beat the odds and went on to become a brilliant man, but obviously that isn’t true for everyone. Telling me that Einstein was a delayed speaker does not put my mind at ease when I look at my son at the age of 2.5 who is still unable speak.

Eventually we got into workshops, got speech therapy for Cameron, learned all new ways to teach him, diet tips and more and by the time Cameron was 3, he had a pretty full vocabulary. He’s approaching 5 at the time of this writing and he can speak as well as any other 5 year old.

The reason I mention this is that we’re still facing denial from family and friends who now approach us saying “he is so smart, he seems to be a perfectly normal child… are you sure he ever really did have Autism?”

It hurts a little, to have people dismiss 2 years of very hard work that we’ve done… saying that he must have been perfectly fine all along. But it’s also very flattering and a wonderful compliment as well. After all, what could be better than for people to think an Autistic child is not Autistic??

Those who are close enough to us to spend a decent amount of time with Cameron know the truth. They see it. They realize the extent of what Autism can do when a child is at their worst.

All I can say is, if you suspect Autism, or you know someone who suspects it in their child… don’t deny it. Don’t be supportive by comparing their child to Einstein. Instead, help them get the information they need to find out for sure. Maybe, with your help, they’ll get their child all the help they need that in 2 years others will ask them “are you sure they ever really were Autistic?”

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