Progress/No Progress

22 Jul

It’s fascinating to me how things seem to go in circles, an idea is challenged, is rejected, you think you’ve moved on and then you find that same idea being used as a strawman argument against you.

In recent days following the massively successful petition regarding the ‘Autism Every Day’ video and the flurry of blog posts regarding the murder of William Lash IV I’ve seen a remarkable return of an idea I thought long dead from the mercury militia – the ‘my problems are worse than yours’ gambit.

Numerous people have tried to insinuate that everyone who has either signed the petition or denounced the murder of William Lash IV are people who’s kids must be ‘high functioning’ and that therefore we cannot have any real understanding of how difficult it is to parent a ‘low functioning’ child.

This is fallacious for numerous reasons. Mostly though its fallacious as its simply untrue. From speaking with a lot of the parents who these people are referring to its clear that they do not have ‘high functioning’ kids. Like my own child, they are considered ‘low functioning’. These are kids who used to smear faeces on walls, run into traffic, have meltdowns at excess noise/smells/tastes/light quality, bang their head against the wall, not communicate, not be toilet trained etc etc. The only difference between ‘them’ and ‘us’ is what we chose to do to move forward. In terms of the challenges, pitfalls, low points and stress we know _exactly_ where ‘they’ are coming from. Parenting a special needs kid is bloody hard work.

The goals for us as parents for _all_ our three kids are as follows: that they are happy, confident and respectful of others. That’s it. If they are happy, confident, respectful of others and rich then that’s great. If they are happy, confident, respectful of others and using a keyboard to communicate then that’s great too.

So how do we do that? I believe that a happy child is a child that is loved unconditionally, that _knows_ it is loved, that _knows_ it is valued exactly as they are. That is engaged first and foremost as a child. I don’t believe you can do that – honestly and totally do that – unless you can genuinely accept that child. That is _not_ to say that some parents don’t love their kids. I believe Erik loves his daughter. I believe JB loves his son. But it seems to me that they see their kids first and foremost as a medical puzzle to solve. No child should be the battleground for their parents hurt and anger.

So – acceptance – that’s the same as doing nothing right? Hardly. Acceptance (to me) means accepting that one’s child has a) a way of perceiving the world that necessitates a parent to alter their teaching and parenting methods and b) that that different perception is equally as valid a state of existence as any other. It seems obvious to me that an inability to see one’s child existence as valid can only result in a child not feeling valued or confident.

Acceptance is just the start. The child still requires teaching and parenting. That means they can be cute, naughty, rude, hilarious, moody, loving and silly. All these states require handling as a parent but for us the approach we take stems from the concept of acceptance.

But I am not suggesting it is not hard work and depressingly difficult sometimes. Of course it is. My objection to the ‘Autism Every Day’ video was not that it showed the bad things. Its that it _only_ showed the bad things and it had to stage manage the situations in order to show those bad things. Nothing good can come from dishonesty.

Sorry but I’ve removed some bits of this post dealing specifically with my daughter. Upon reflection I guess I’m still not comfortable putting out things about her to the whole internet.

106 Responses to “Progress/No Progress”

  1. HN August 2, 2006 at 18:03 #

    GMAC said “But then, I’ve been labelled a “lazy” parent because I don’t follow the same paths as the attention-seekers.”

    I was actually labeled “lucky”.

    For some reason some of those who were dragging their kids to cranial sacralists and making the kids take oral chelation pill did not consider taking a child to speech therapy twice a week (once a week later, but had to pay out of pocket because of insurance rules) and doing “speech homework” as _WORK_ !

  2. kevin_1000 August 27, 2006 at 22:41 #

    “So how do we do that? I believe that a happy child is a child that is loved unconditionally, that knows it is loved, that knows it is valued exactly as they are. That is engaged first and foremost as a child. I don’t believe you can do that – honestly and totally do that – unless you can genuinely accept that child. That is not to say that some parents don’t love their kids. I believe Erik loves his daughter. I believe JB loves his son. But it seems to me that they see their kids first and foremost as a medical puzzle to solve. No child should be the battleground for their parents hurt and anger.”

    Hmm..very pious of you. A parent who loves his/her child sees them in a coma. I think that could be a medical puzzle they may wish to be solved. You are assuming that autism is not a disability. I find that very offensive.

  3. Kev August 28, 2006 at 10:04 #

    _”Hmm..very pious of you.”_

    What exactly is pious about loving one’s child. The idea is…bizarre…

    _”A parent who loves his/her child sees them in a coma. I think that could be a medical puzzle they may wish to be solved.”_

    That makes even less sense Kevin. How exactly is coma and autism comparable?

    _”You are assuming that autism is not a disability. I find that very offensive.”_

    I am? I personally think autism _can_ be a disability in many ways. I also think its just as valid a state as non-autism and people who are autistic are worthy of respect. I find it even more bewildering that you find that offensive.

  4. Kev August 28, 2006 at 10:48 #

    By the way Kevin, are you Susan’s husband, boyfriend, dad, brother or Susan herself? Just curious.

  5. kevin_1000 August 28, 2006 at 14:03 #

    Figure it out for yourself.

  6. Kev August 28, 2006 at 15:45 #

    Well, you have the same address but I’m afraid beyond that I’m not psychic. But, judging by the pompous belligerence and the inability to actually be constructive in any way I’m guessing you’re Susan.

    So, now we have our ritual insults out the way do you want to take another stab at asking or answering anything? Or are you still determined to be an ass?

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