A New Look at Autism

In celebration of neurodiversity and snowflakes

I imagine that for some parents the need to know “Why?” is so strong it trumps every thought they have about their child’s future. I know this is true because when I'm honest I’d admit I both wanted and needed that question answered after my older son Sam was diagnosed as an 18-month-old toddler. By the time his younger brother Noah was born two years later and diagnosed on the severe end of the spectrum, things changed. I realized I could spend my time and emotional energy searching for the answers to my question or I could get down on the floor with my sons and get to know them for who they were, as they were.

After that, I felt a subtle shift in how I thought about autism, and I realized, contrary to what some had led me to believe, my sons were not broken. Their autism was not an enemy. It was not a disease. Instead, I found solace in their uniqueness and in the way the simplest morsels of everyday life that we as adults take for granted was to them both fascinating and beautiful.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: I Have an Autistic Son. Anyone Else Have Kids on the Spectrum?

Children with autism are quite often extremely intelligent and highly focused. They have an eye for order and routine, and, while at times that can make everyday tasks difficult, it also brings a number of positives to what most would think of as typical parenting woes. For instance, in my home there is no sibling rivalry. I have never once heard, "Mom, he's touching me!!" or "Mom, Noah called me a bad name!" That is because they are limited in their verbal abilities, but, more importantly, it is that they don't interact with each other. The boys are in a constant state of parallel play. They each do their own thing beside one another but not with one another. Also, my sons see the world in black and white, and the way they speak is consistent with that fact. They don't lie, embellish, or otherwise try to hide something they have done. They also don't tattle on one another. When I see other parents struggling to maintain order with their kids I feel thankful that is one battle I don't have to fight.

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