Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Is the Autistic Mind Unhealthy
This topic came up on a forum that I frequent, and I felt the need to address it further here, because it is something that I feel is at the heart of the debate regarding the nature of autism.I think that the autistic mind (I am speaking in vast generalizations here) may be ill-suited for modern western society in many ways, but I would also argue that many of us have minds that are ill suited to modern society, myself included. While I have had many problems as a result of my kind of mind, I do not consider it unhealthy, anymore than I consider my brother's mind unhealthy or my husband's or my mother's minds unhealthy. All of us have struggles, and without support many of of us would not survive in this world. There are people who are successful in some aspects of life- rising to the top of their chosen professions while completely failing at maintaining any meaningful personal relationships and others where the reverse is true. Many people turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with their problems while others turn to eating disorders or plastic surgery or opt for a life of crime. Some people seem to achieve a balance between career and family but pile up mountains of debt and always struggle financially. I could go on forever, but my point is that all of us struggle in life- some of us more than others and just because we have the right test scores, the right grades, belong to the right clubs, attend the right schools, make the right kinds of friends and even have the right kind of upbringing does not ensure that we will be happy in our lives or with ourselves. All of us rely upon others to help us through, and I don't expect that my son will be any different in that respect. He may need many of the same kinds of help that his father does and that I do. He may need different kinds of help, but is that such a terrible thing? I will not shed a tear for my son if he has joy(in whichever way he defines it) in his heart and nothing else. I will bleed for him if he has everything else in this world but joy. I don't think fitting into society is in any way, shape or form a ticket to happiness. I think that society itself is unhealthy, full of truly unhealthy individuals leading truly unhealthy existences. The vast majority of these people are not autistic.

It is my greatest wish that I will someday truly understand my son, understand what he needs, what I should aim to give to him if I am able. This is the knowledge that I desire above all else, and that I think most parents must also desire. We feel as if we are traveling in the darkness, sometimes walking long distances without stumbling, other times tripping over obstacles and bumping into walls, and we are constantly searching for someone to guide us, someone whose vision is better than our own. Perhaps our children also feel this way, forced into walking a path that is foreign to them, that requires great effort to navigate, and that will always be fraught with dangers and filled with stumbling blocks. Our children are brave, braver than we are most of the time. They must stretch their minds to accommodate us and our way of life, to communicate with us on our terms, whereas we are like the stubborn Americans who by virtue of the dominance of the English language feel no obligation to learn another-even when traveling to foreign countries. Is this arrogance, or ignorance or both? No doubt- our kids need to learn to communicate, but why do we insist that ours must be the only language?

1 Comments:

At 7:07 AM, Blogger Soapbox mom said...

...stubborn Americans who by virtue of the dominance of the English language feel no obligation to learn another-even when traveling to foreign countries. Is this arrogance, or ignorance or both? No doubt- our kids need to learn to communicate, but why do we insist that ours must be the only language?
Well put. Personally, I feel that moms in particular are very good at translating. We instinctively understand what our kids are trying to communicate to us, though others will look at us with that puzzled "What did he say?" look on their faces
Until our kids learn to speak the "normal" language, or even if they never do, it is up to us to act as translators, guides and liaisons while they are traveling through this "foreign land."
You are doing a great job, of this much I am absolutely certain.

 

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