Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Miracle That Didn't Happen

Flipping through my FB, and Twitter feed I can see an array of autism related articles, and blogs. Just looking at their titles one can see a gleam of inspiration, and awe-ness that many of the pieces contain within. The feelings of warmth, and love. I think those pieces have their place, but sometimes the sweetness gets to be too much. I often feel like I am watching the end of a South Park episode where one of the characters always turns, and says "You know what? I learned something today." then continues to speak about the important life lesson they learned in that episode.

Why does that bother me? The short answer to that question is 'bother' would be a strong word. I certainly don't feel like I get to tell other people what they should write about. I'm not about to censor other people's words, because my experiences don't match theirs.

It just feels... awkward, or maybe too artificial in some ways to always be a parent of kids on the spectrum whose experiences aren't nearly that enlightened.
In fact, most of my days are probably about as mundane as everyone else's. I get up, get kids to school make food, clean, do laundry, run errands, exercise, water my plants (okay, I for real forget this one all the time, but I try), and do the same thing the next day all over again. Much like everyone else does. Of course, there are times where the color of the sky catches my breath, or the green of the grass makes me grateful to nature, or just the smell of my favorite perfume makes me nostalgic. All those little things are what make the days a little easier. They are little drops of inspiration sprinkled into our days to let us know we're still alive. I will never negate those moments. Those are moments that are available to anyone, everyday, always. We just have to slow down enough to notice.

Having kids on the spectrum is certainly different in some ways. It has it's challenging days, and it does shape us in so many ways. Some for the better, and some for worse. With that being said, there is nothing angelic, or touched with magic about my life. I don't discover a whole new way of looking at life every other day due to something my sons did, or didn't do. I don't know of any journey that I am on, at least none that is anymore relevant than anyone else's. We all share the same space, and live on the same world. The way I detest when people insist my nonverbal son 'is in his own world' is the same way I feel when other parents constantly act as if our kids are otherworldy in a magical sense. They're both making autistics out to be 'other than', and different in ways that can come back around as stigmatizing. For instance, I'd be embarrassed of someone told me I inspire them because of I how I handle my autism. This is not to be confused with admiration for talents, and personality traits. This is a patronizing type of inspiration that I can truly do without. It would feel like pity, and dismissal of the whole being that I am.

I'm not a super mom due to having autistic kids. My daughter isn't a hero, because she has to deal with her brothers. We're not more in depth, magical, angelic, closer to God, or any other miracle laced rhetoric. God does not give special kids to special people. That's insulting to say to disabled kids whom have been born to shitty parents. It's like saying some kids had the awful misfortune of not having a plan, or maybe their higher power forgot to assign them kick ass parents that care. We can recognize good parenting without making it out to be a feat of God to possess those skills. Life is just more complicated than that.

I want to end this by explaining that I don't mean people can never have deep experiences that they'd never have experienced without having a child with autism, or some other special need. Sometimes, we do learn more from an extraordinary circumstance then we would have if we'd never gotten the opportunity to be in that situation. I am not about to say it's a difficult, hard, challenging, or strenuous situation, because I don't view my parenting as those things. It is atypical. I will call it that. I'm not choosing to make the best out of a bad situation, because I don't see autism as a 'bad situation.' It's okay to recognize a profound moments sometimes. I just don't personally have them all the time. Most of my days are pretty ordinary just like everyone else's. I try not to cheapen the 'aha!' life lessons type of moments by turning every little thing into a profound message that will change your life when you read it type of thing.


6 comments:

  1. I loved this post. I laughed loudly at your South Park reference. Life is never like that and I wince when "autistics (are) our made to be 'other than', and different in ways that can come back around as stigmatizing." As if the world is filled up with an infinity of us-them categories, and the "thems" are isnpirational, not-to-be-looked-at-as-people. Thank you.

    Lori

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    1. Thanks for reading! I was worried not many would get that reference, but it's how my brain associates things, so I left it in the post. Glad it made you laugh.

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  2. This is a very helpful insight for me, both as a parent, and as a blogger and therapist to those on the spectrum, and their family members. You are asking for neither adulation nor exaggeration. You are asking for awareness and acceptance. I hope I'm right, and I'll strive to incorporate this awareness into my future writing.

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    1. Yeah, I want people to be aware of autism, and some of the difference that might need to be taken into account, but at the same time I want others to understand that we're not living lives all that much different than anyone else. Othering us doesn't create equality. It actually widens the gap. It feels awkward to me when I hear parents of ASD kids making their child's disorder/difference all about them. Acting like they're this special person on a magical journey is just not the kind of awareness I want. I am sure I have upset people by saying that, but it's true. None of us are any better than anyone else, nor worse. Phrases like 'autistic angel' and the like are not serving us as a group of people. It's making us out to be mythical, magical, and otherworldly. We're humans, not token symbols.

      I very much appreciate your attention to this, and how you ask questions. (:

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