I came across a video today that I found interesting, tearful, and yet smile-worthy. The video is by Alex Plank, an Aspergian, who runs Wrong Planet, an web community for those with autism or parents of autistic children. I have enjoyed watching their Austism Talk TV for a little while now, and today I saw this video.
As I watched this, there were times when I completely agreed with those interviewed. Temple Grandin for one, and Alex Plank for that matter. Acceptance and understanding can really make a huge difference in these peoples’ lives. What really needs to be understood is that not all autism symptoms are bad. I happen to love that my son is an engineer. He always has been. He would build pulley systems across his room that would lift his toys and relocate them before he was four. He’s now moved onto unique Lego creations and inventions.
One of those interviewed made the comment about how a diagnosis can sometimes make things worse or give it a negative connotation. I didn't find this to be true in my opinion. A diagnosis helped my son gain assistance in school. He's allowed to ask for breaks when he's overwhelmed, which he rarely does because he doesn't want to fall behind or miss anything. But he needs those breaks to help him control his frustrations. He gets special paper for writing assistance because that's one of his struggles. Social group, occupational therapy, tools to help him deal with overstimulating environments are all on his list of required assistance that he'll receive. Without a diagnosis, he wouldn't get it. Do I think it's right that he has to have a diagnosis to receive these tools? NO! I don't. Unfortunately, that's where the acceptance should be more widespread. Any child should be allowed to receive the tools they need to succeed without the bureaucracy required today. Not all children fit into a diagnosis and they are forced to fit into a rigid system. But that gets into taxes and such and we just don't have time for that today... besides, it's just depressing and this is supposed to be a smile log.
Now where were we? Oh yea... If you gave us pill that made his autism go away, I don’t think we would ask him take it. Ultimately, it would come down to his decision, but I would like to see him succeed with his gifts despite his social issues and anxiety. I can’t and wouldn’t speak for others on the spectrum or parenting those on the spectrum, and I would understand how many may disagree with that. After all, there is such a wide range of severity. I’m not sure that I would feel the same way if, for instance, my son was non-verbal, completely overwhelmed by sights/sounds/touch to the point he would lose control of his reactions or even worse.
I do feel that awareness needs to be widespread. My son has dealt with bullying from other children, a school psychologist who sat him down in front of the class and asked the peers to raise their hand if they liked him (not everyone did and those kids are the ones my son remembers), a teacher who increased his anxiety by being just as rigid as he was and preferred punishment over rewards, miscommunication during sporting events and so much more. Whenever there were issues at school that involved a he said she said scenario, my son told the truth whether it made his life harder or not. Other kids know how to lie and pass blame. It’s difficult to watch your son deal with such misunderstanding, cruelty and hardship. These experiences are why I wonder if my son would choose to rid himself of autism or not. I think he would gladly dismiss ADHD. I don’t think he’s ever felt a positive emotion from that. He has been happy in his Asperger world when he’s able to focus and create something of which he can be proud.
I know this post is a bit different from my usual posts, but I would gladly find happiness and smiles if more awareness made out there. So my smile today comes from just that... knowing that someone else will watch Alex’s video and maybe learn just a little bit more.