After a tough outing the other day, I was thinking, as we drove home, how much I wish there was a magic pill to cure my son’s anxiety. I was nearly salivating at the thought. I would cure his anxiety in a heartbeat. But I have always been in the camp of parents who don’t want a “cure” for his Autism. And before you accuse me of saying so because I must have a “mild” kiddo I’ll disclose that R is very impacted by his Autism. He carries a level 3 diagnosis. He is not “mild” on the spectrum. He is less abled than the large majority of his same age Autistic peers.
But here’s the thing: Autism isn’t just the sum of his challenges. Are there things I wish I could change for him? Things I would “cure” for him? Absolutely. Would I be willing to re-write his entire neurology, personality and all, to achieve that end? No f’ing way! Autism is so much more than just the sum of his challenges. I see Autism when he smiles and giggles, reaching out to touch something my eyes have missed. I see it when he moves his body in joyful, wondrous rhythms. It’s in the fact that he has, in his 3 short years, never tried to deceive anyone, never once acted with malicious intent, no matter how angry or frustrated he might be. It’s how he is the happiest, most cheerful child I’ve ever met despite the hardships he faces. I look at his beautiful smile, his whole body bursting with joie de vivre, and I think: this is Autism. This is as much Autism as any of his challenges. This is who he is. I don’t want a different child. I want him.