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The Worst Thing About My Son’s Autism Diagnosis

My son was diagnosed with autism.

Autism is often represented by a puzzle.He was diagnosed the day before his third birthday and with that diagnosis, joined the ranks of millions of children and adults diagnosed with an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) every year.

The day he was diagnosed, the doctor asked me how I felt about the diagnosis. I said I felt relief. It had been a long summer of wondering and the diagnosis meant that we could finally move on with our lives and begin to help our son in the areas where he was having problems.

My son loves numbers and letters.

He loves dancing and Gene Kelly. His autism helps him see the amazing details of life. His memory is incredible. This helped him read at the young age of 18 months and be able to do basic math at two and a half. He feels deeply and is bothered by any form of sadness. Emotions can overwhelm him sometimes, like any other four year-old. His father and I work hard to use visuals to teach him, as like many people with an ASD, he learns best that way. I love the world my son has shown me. I love how he sees the details of life and the amazing love of learning he has and that he has instilled in me.

But there’s something about having a child with autism that’s the worst… the way the rest of the world views his diagnosis.

Every day we are inundated with Facebook posts, memes, and speeches by presidential hopefuls stating that autism is to be feared. Every day we are told not to ingest something, give a vaccine, or hold our kids too long for fear that they might get this dreaded, horrible disease called Autism. Every day, those people without an ASD watch and hear these things and so do those, like my son, who have been diagnosed with an ASD.

I can’t even begin to understand how depressing it must be to hear that countless parents would rather expose their child to diseases like, polio, whooping cough, measles, mumps, and hepatitis, rather than risk the very thought that their child might simply think and perceive the world as my son does. They would rather risk the death of their child than have them fall anywhere on the autism spectrum.

Can you imagine seeing that day in and day out?

Can you imagine people referring to the way you see the world as an “epidemic”? Something that needs to be “cured”? These are all things that my son, my sweet little son and those on the spectrum hear every day: You are not normal. I would rather my child not be able to walk, then be anything like you.

I, of course, am my son’s mother, and therefore have the right to view him as perfect.

But aren’t all of our kids perfect? Aren’t their individual capabilities and faults in and of themselves, perfect? Don’t all of our children struggle with different aspects of life? Need to be reminded to use words? Learn at different speeds, capacities, and ways? Why then, simply because my son and others like him learn in similar ways, view the world in pictures and details, and have different interests than a typical four year-old, do he and his fellow ASD community members need to be feared?

I refuse to see my son or our family as victims of some rampant epidemic. My son is not to be pitied and neither is my family. He is as beautiful and as whole as every other child and person has the capacity to be.

His autism diagnosis doesn't make him any less beautiful.As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, millions of children are diagnosed with an ASD every year. Millions. That’s a lot of people growing up in a world that seems, if Facebook memes and celebrity speeches are to be believed, to be ashamed of them simply because of how their minds work.

Every parent is told that the words that we say to our children will shape them later on in life.

Maybe we need to take a closer look at the words and ideas we are putting out as a nation, as those without autism are not the only ones being shaped by them. Those, like my son, are being taught to believe that they are not wanted and they should be feared and I, for one, refuse to let the stigma of the ASD diagnosis continue in my home. I hope that you read this, and approach ASD in a different and more accepting way too.

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7 Responses to The Worst Thing About My Son’s Autism Diagnosis

  1. Stacie Jacques September 14, 2016 at 11:04 am #

    I appreciate this so very much, both as your son’s aunt and as a professional who has assisted people on the ASD for many years. I think that the more people who are on the ASD (and those who love them) raise awareness, the more that the general public will understand the nuances.

  2. Meredith Gordon
    Meredith Gordon September 14, 2016 at 11:21 am #

    Thank you so much Stacie! I really hope for the future of our children that more people start sharing our view!

  3. Keli Rogers September 16, 2016 at 10:59 am #

    I appreciate this as well. 🙂 While my daughter has not been fully diagnosed yet, she has been given the diagnosis of Global Developmental Delay and sensory issues. She is nonverbal at 2 but she is the most sweetest little girl. I want her to know someday that just because she is different doesn’t make her a bad person. That she should never be ashamed of her disability, only be proud of her capabilities like her love for music.

    I hope someday we can all get to a place where autism and other disabilities are not looked down upon but celebrated bc these kids are the best I know.

  4. Elizabeth Greeno September 17, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    I am very saddened to believe that so many people hold this view (especially anti-vaxxers) because people living with Autism and living with different cognitive abilities should be celebrated. This is not just people with a diagnosis or a “label”. All people have different minds, different ways of doing things, strengths and weaknesses. Every. Single. Human. Being.
    You are very right that until we all see each other as human, with the need to be loved and appreciated, it will be hard for each other and humanity. It helps to know there are people like you out there willing to put themselves out on social media to express their unhappiness and give people a new found awareness of what it is like to not be in the main stream. My son is almost two and lives with a cognitive disability, a developmental disability. Back in the day, someone would have referred to him as the “R” word. In my eyes he is perfect. A little man with curiosity, being inquisitive, smart and an amazing little boy. The stigma and shame that I think we meet is was this your fault. Was this the parents fault. No one understands genetics, or gene pools or that nature takes it’s course. It is the luck of the draw most of the time. You try to do everything right. You eat organic, take all the classes, listen to your grandma but most of the time it is just nature taking it’s twists and turns. Thank you for raising awareness about people living different lives than mainstream society. Humanity is all deserving of love, appreciation and the chance to be admired. And I for one admire my son every day and love him with all of my heart.

  5. Krystal September 20, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    Awesome post. I have to share!

  6. Sarah Courtemanche September 26, 2016 at 7:57 am #

    Really enjoyed these thoughts, Meredith. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective!

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