I rewrote and submitted my Waging War post for the Huffington Post. They changed some of the tenses (I hate when they do that) and published it last night – click here. Someone commented, “It is great that you come to the realization that you can accept your child for who she is. However, I know very few parents of autistic children who confuse their children with their children’s disorder — whether or not they wage a war against autism. Children are blessings, autism is a curse.”
That comment made me think about how difficult it has been, for me anyway, to separate Emma from her autism. I have always loved my daughter. I have not loved her autism. Even now, that concept continues to evolve. I accept that this is how things are, I accept that she has autism, I accept that because she has autism there are many, many things we must do to support and help her. I accept that there are things that will take much, much longer for her to learn and other things that she comes to with no trouble at all. I accept that who she is has as much to do with the autism piece as it does the Emma piece, that in fact the two are not separate.
Any parent with a child on the spectrum has wondered what their child would have been like had they not had autism. Would she still have near perfect pitch? Would she still have an amazing memory, the sort of memory that remembers specific people, places and events when she was two years old? What sorts of things would she like doing? Presumably her favored activities: the carousel, the zoo, The American Natural History Museum and FAO Schwartz would have worn out their welcome by now. Would she still fear dogs? Would she be the sort of child who had many friends or just a few very close friends? What classes would she excel in? What subjects would captivate her? Where does the autism end and Emma start? Can we really do that? Can we really separate the two? Emma’s autism informs every aspect of her life. And yes, she is a blessing. Exactly as she is, with autism or without it.
Nic & Em at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to: Emma’s Hope Book