There are a few things I have been meaning to say to you for awhile and I think there is no time like the present to let it out. You see, when I was in 6th grade many years ago I did a science project on you. Back then (early 90's) people didn't know a whole lot about you and you were referred to as childhood schizophrenia. Crazy, huh? Fast forward a decade or two and it turns out I spend most of my daylight hours battling you, and yes, marveling at you. Fighting for my students, trying to unlock them from your grasp.
I see you every day in the eyes of my students. And the reflection of you in their families.
And I have to tell you, I am not happy about it.
You change people's lives.
You change parent's dreams. You know, the ones where they dreamed of family vacations and soccer games and conversations with their child. Often times, these dreams are replaced with dreams of new therapies and hopes of conversation become hopes for functional communication. And instead of cheering at baseball games, they are fighting for the rights of their children. That doesn't really seem fair.
Forgive me, Autism, but you suck.
And yet, you do have a few redeeming qualities.
I may be biased, but I think my students are awesome and that in some ways they are far more fortunate than the rest of us. They are so passionate about the things they find joy in. They live in the moment. They don't hold grudges, they rarely lie and they don't waste time doing things they don't really want to be doing. Many have brilliant minds, they see things for how they really are. They love unconditionally and they certainly enjoy life. They work harder than many people I know. They live the definition of an authentic life.
I will not fault you on those qualities, for they are gifts. But please, for the love of all things good, release the chokehold you possess.
Let our kids sleep.
Let them tell us what they need.
Let them have meaningful social experiences.
Let them just be kids.
I understand that this is asking a lot, but won't you see what you can do? In the meantime we will continue to celebrate our children and their amazing gifts. Cheering their successes and helping them navigate their challenges, and loving them the whole way through. Searching for the answers to the secrets you hold.
If you think that is too much to ask, then please at least consider making yourself less elusive so that our children can be understood and accepted for the incredible beings that they are.
Thanks for letting me vent. Now get about releasing that secret. Please.
To learn more about autism, please visit Autism Speaks