I was in attendance at an autism conference where the presenter, the father of a son with autism, asked this question: “If you had a magic wand that could be waved and eliminate your child’s autism - would you wave it?”
My immediate thought was “Hell yes!” and then I had an overwhelming feeling of guilt, like if I was a good mom I should simply be happy for the way my son IS and embrace his disability as a gift.
But in the next sentence the presenter agreed and said, “Of course you would.” OK, I felt less guilty.
And then he added, “And so would your child. Your child does not want to struggle, either. So would your child.”
It was a revolutionary moment for me. I had always felt conflicted that I wished my son was “normal.” I always thought this feeling suggested that I might not love him just the way he is. I do.
But the wand question made it so very clear. Yes, autism is hard on me and I love him just as he is, but dang - HIS life is so hard.
I always try to describe his situation to others in this way: Imagine you are in the Peace Corps and you’ve been placed on a very remote island in the Pacific. On this island, the natives speak a complicated language, and you can’t seem to learn it. Sure, you know a few words to survive, but you really can’t participate the way you wish you could.
And so it has been this way for him for seventeen years. SEVENTEEN YEARS. Can you imagine the heartache and frustration? Of course my son would wave that wand!
Now if somebody would just invent one. And if it’s not too much to ask, could it to be purple and sparkly?