January 8, 2015

It's Hard to Imagine My Son Without Autism

What exactly is autism anyway?  He doesn’t look like there is anything wrong with him.  Should we get a second opinion?  What if he’s just going through a phase?  I’m sure he’ll catch up to the other kids soon.  Some kids just talk late.  He’s just quirky.  I have thought and said all of these things.

Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday that my son was diagnosed with autism.  Other times it’s hard to imagine life before he was diagnosed.  Joseph Campbell said, “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”  I was so focused on getting Brandon the help he needed, that it took me some time to realize that it was okay to grieve.

Grieving over the life I had pictured for my child doesn’t mean that I’m admitting that something is “wrong” with him.  It doesn’t mean that I love him any less, or that our lives are over.  Pretending that everything is okay, though, is walking a fine line next to denial.

If I could go back to the day my son was diagnosed with autism, I would tell myself that there will come a point when I could not imagine my child any differently.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I'm not saying I would wish autism upon anyone.  There are varying degrees of severity, and I do wish that my son did not have to deal with the struggles that autism brings.  However, if someone handed me a pill that would cure my son’s autism, I would not be quick to snatch it up.  I can't tell you with any certainty that wouldn't do it; I’m just saying that it would give me pause.

Even at his young age of three, he has such a personality.  Regardless of the “autism is/is not a disease” debate, there is no doubt that autism is a part of my son.  If I were to take that away, would he still by my little Brandon?  Would his interests change?  Would he still like to play the same games?  Would he still have his fearlessness?  Would he still laugh at the same things?

It’s not possible to decipher all of his quirks between autism and his God-given personality. 

Yes, autism is a part of who my son is, but it does not define him.  He is just a boy.  He is my boy; and the truth is, I could not imagine him any differently.

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