I wrote a post on another blog about a tv program I had watched
about autism. It was in the Extreme Love series with Louis Theroux.
One of the questions that I was faced with after watching the program was would I wish my children to be different. My eldest son has Aspergers Syndrome, he was diagnosed at the age of 12 and he is now 24yrs. My 7 yr old daughter also has high functioning autism, she was diagnosed last summer. They are both verbal and live relatively normal lives. My son is currently in his third year of an accountancy degree. My daughter is in yr 3 and if she does as well as her big brother then I will be happy.
I can ring the changes in my two autistic children's lives. With my son I found it hard to accept he was different, that's why he was diagnosed so late. Sadly we got to the stage where I had to cry for help, even though it had been offered to me before and I'd rejected it. The most difficult years were from where my husband left us (my son was 9yrs old) to mid teens (about 16) My son was hard to control, violent, angry, un-cooperative and generally difficult. He couldn't understand what was happening and neither could I. I didn't handle any of it very well and I'll put my hands up to that. It's not been plain sailing since then, but things have improved and mostly my son is a wonderful, caring person. He's different, yes, but he's a good person who is trying to find his way in a complicated world. We are getting there slowly, I just hope he makes it. I used to fret that he didn't have girlfriends, or even friends. I worried that he would never find a job. I accepted that he'd probably be living at home for all his life. Sometimes I see a glimmer of hope, a sense of change, a wistful thought that maybe things will be different for him in the future. Would I change him?
My daughter is about to face her most difficult years. Being in mainstream school with other children emphasises her differences. I hate seeing her sad because she doesn't understand the rules of friendship. I know with a sinking heart that life is just going to get harder for her. The choices I face are keeping her in a mainstream school or finding her somewhere else to continue her education. With my son Mainstream didn't work and he was transferred, it took a look time for him to catch up with his education but he persevered in the end. He did, however, find life much easier in his new school.
So would I change her?
Such a difficult question and one I can't really answer with conviction. Yes, of course it would be easier if my children did not have autism, easier for me and for them. Life can be difficult for autistic children and adults, but hopefully with more awareness the future could be better. It would be nice to think my children will lead lives just like anyone else, get married, have children of their own, have jobs, all the things other people do.
Yet, I love my children just as they are. They are difficult at times but mostly just a little different. They are still my children and I would feel like I was betraying them or letting them down if I wished them to be different. So my answer would have to be, no I wouldn't change my children, but I would do anything to change other people's negative perspectives of them.