Many times in our lives, we come upon a fork in the road. One choice leads you down a certain path and the other choice leads you down a very different road. Finding out your child has Autism is complex enough, but eventually we all come to a similar fork in the road. Do I choose my child, or do I choose to please the surrounding neurotypicals. . .those judgmental people around me?
It sounds simplistic but we realized almost immediately after the diagnosis that you can be judged, alienated, and sometimes even rejected by your peers and perhaps even family. It hurts because you know your child cannot help the ‘tantrums’ when the baby in the grocery store won’t stop screaming, or that your child’s complete lack of athletic skills will never match the soccer mom’s expectation of a friendly neighborhood soccer game. So eventually you and your child are excluded.
When these and many other similar situations would continue to arise I realized my son would always elicit these looks from unforgiving people, because his Autism was not going away. So, we chose our child. As soon as our family as a unit took that path everything became easier! I no longer worry about other’s lack of knowledge when it comes to sensory issues or brain function. We as a family could have our own fun. Quirky doesn’t bother me anymore, in fact it’s almost cool, and definitely a relief.
Together our family is a strong unit accepting and excelling in our son’s unique interests. Our family weekends are no longer with people that make for awkward or unforgiving situations, but we welcome anyone who would like to be with us, just as we are! Now, many years later, the same families who alienated us for the differences have surprisingly praised our strong family unit, “hiccups” and all!
By Jennifer Allen