Thankful for autism?

This morning I read a very thought provoking post over at Joys autism blog, where she mentioned that autism was something she was thankful for.  It inspired some thoughts of my own, that sort of took off. 

I am often guilty of swinging back and forth on my thoughts about autism. I often get upset that Josh has autism, knowing who he was before, and knowing the things he now struggles with. But then I get to thinking that he is who he is and that I should be accepting, and I am. I really am. Despite my latest rants on how much I hate him to have to struggle.

Is it possible to be thankful for something that causes Josh to struggle with so many different things? 

A few weeks ago I wrote about a conversation I had with a man who said that when he feels down, he likes to look at special need peoples lives and think “Atleast I don’t have their problems” and then continues to feel good about himself. The mere thought of that makes me sick. Not just because you are making yourself feel good at another persons expense, but because often times special need people are looked at as enjoying life less, because of a certain disability. When in reality, they are most often happier than we as “Normal” people are

The word normal, is so misused, not only by myself but from others as well. What defines normal? What IS normal, why is normal so important? Why do we (or I) feel the need to be this alleged “Normal?”

Since getting Josh back, there have been a number of things that I have learned, and been taught. I like to think I have a different outlook on things now, but I don’t know how much of that would be true. I still find myself worried about what other people might think, not so much about us, but about Josh. I want him to fit in, and not have to worry, but on the other hand, I want him to be who he is, and if this is who he is, then that is ok.

Ive often wondered where the line is. How far is too far. Is getting him therapy, wrong? Is it somehow saying I don’t accept him, and he needs help? Help, for what? To “Fit in?” Why then, have I spent the majority of the year telling Madison that its ok NOT to fit in. That she doesn’t have to “Blend in” with the rest of the kids, and act just like them? Whats different about Josh?

I want him to grow up. I want him to be happy, healthy, and all that other stuff that factors into a somewhat “Normal” childhood. But why “Normal?” What do I see in “Normal” that I want for Josh? For Madison or Dylan for that matter?

Which brings me back to that word, the word that I misuse, and overuse. Normal.

Years ago, way back when, is that what I consider to be normal? When Emmy passed away, everyone told me that I would eventually return to being “Normal” but what struck me as odd, every time I was told that was the fact that I was being told I was somehow…NOT normal. That somehow, loosing my daughter turned me into a not normal, person. I was told that eventually I would find a NEW “Normal” which is something that has taken me years to understand. I don’t want to go into all the details now, but what Im trying to say is that everyone has their own definitions of being normal, and what normal is.

I can look back through my life and find different times when I honestly thought I was normal, where other times I would yell “WHY CANT I BE NORMAL.” What strikes me as odd now, is that I still wonder the same things. At certain times in my life, I think “Finally, Im normal” and at other times I wonder “Why cant we just be normal.” I guess to me, normal is a life without so many ups or downs. Which, who, really, has that?

I do accept Josh, and I don’t want him to change, just because he doesn’t fit in. I don’t want him to change because someone else wants him to. I don’t want him to think something is wrong with him, because nothing is. I want him to go, as far as he can go and not any further. Just like with Madison, or Dylan, I want him to succeed. But I don’t want him, or them, to ever be pressured into being someone that they arent.

Josh has a lot to learn, a long ways to go. But you know what? So do I.

I didn’t fight this long to get Josh back, just to try and change him into who he isn’t. I fought this long to get him back, so he could be who he is, without having to worry, or wonder…and while a lot of the time, Im guilty of swinging back and forth, wanting him to be this or that…I hope that he grows up to be who he is, and not who I, or anyone else, want him to be.

Is it possible to be thankful for a kid who finds happiness out of the small simple things?  Who enjoys life, who is (mostly) happy, healthy, and growing by leaps and bounds?

…so yes, as the month slowly approaches thanksgiving, I hope I can honestly say without a doubt that I am thankful for Josh (and Madison and Dylan too!) and autism.


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