Saturday, July 13, 2013

Taking time to educate

I was asked tonight after a meeting I was at by a lady who had grown children what my son's disability was. She asked in a manner that I knew she knew what it was but instead of being rude and saying "So your kids is Autistic right?" She made it opened to segway her questions and wants for my opinion. I explained to her my son has PDD-NOS a form of Autism along with sensory disorders and auditory disorders. She smiled and nodded politely which left me feeling a tad bit uneasy. I have heard of these scenarios of how welling meaning people come to you and suddenly tell you if I do XYZ then my life will be better, If I just spank him he will snap out of it etc. I braced myself because 1) I had no idea what she was going to say 2) I was at my friends place and I wanted to remain as calm and professional as possible. 
I can be quick to jump to the defensive so I stood calmly and waited for her to go where she was heading with our conversation. My husband was near by and I am pretty sure he was sensing that this could get intense so he walked away with H to go see the horses. Chris doesn't quiet have the filter I do so it's best to let me handle sticky situations such as what I thought we might be encountering. 
Anyways she asked if I had decided to go all organic and gluten free style of eating. I am thinking "Oh lord here it comes my child's diet is about to be the cure for Autism!" I heard her out and when she said that she had heard it can help alter their behaviors etc I suddenly thinking "Ok I can totally work with this." I explained to her how his diet is for the most part limited due to him being picky however we eliminated food dyes and a lot of the processed foods. I buy organic for him when I can but that we are on a tight budget so I can't do the whole gluten friendly stuff quiet yet but hopefully one day I can. For now this is where we are and it seems to be helping us for the time being. 
I think she sort of sensed my tension so we threw in some side conversation and then she double backed and came at me again. This time I was more prepared. Or so I had thought. She asked me if they had a cure for Autism would I want to cure H? A year ago I would have jumped up and down screaming yes yes, oh please please please cure my child! However I have grown accustomed to this lifestyle, this is who Hunter is, He is just as good as any typical developing peer and will be somebody someday regardless of his disability.  
I turned and looked at her and calmly responded "No I don't want to cure my child" She didn't seem quiet prepared for my response. She opened her mouth looked at me and did a double take. When I saw the look on her face I told her "This is who Hunter is, Autism doesn't have Hunter, Hunter has Autism. This is how he was suppose to be. This is what sets him apart from his siblings and his peers. He was put here with a purpose and that as to take this disability and let it know who is boss." 
After a few minutes she still probably couldn't let it sink in that I didn't want to cure my son so she wanted to I guess come at this from another angle. I explained I had four children and that each one was special in their own way. Do I blame myself for anything they might have today? Nope not really. I mean I knew it was a possibility that one or all of my kids could end up with some form of learning disability and or ADD. Did that stop me, of course not. I wanted a family. I could tell she thinking that I was taking offense to her and she was telling me that I should never beat myself up over how any of my children turned out it wasn't my fault. I think clearly I had this lady so confused that she was trying to salvage what was going on. I wasn't irritated with her I was just so curious as to her line and logic of her thinking. She had older children whom she really didn't see often I assume they live with another relative as she stated it had been over a year since seeing them. So I guess she was just curious as to a special needs parent thinks when it comes to this. 
As we wrapped up our conversation she went in for the kill. However I think she was more curious because its such a common misconception and tossed around so often I can't blame her. She asked if I blamed all the immunizations that children are given. I told her out of my 4 fully vaccinated children this was the only child on the spectrum. She said she had read that giving tylonal to a child before shots had also been the case. Well I am not sure then if that is the case how we ended up where we are since I was the mom who always forgot and gave my kids the pain meds AFTER the shots. 
I wanted her to see that not all the research out there is accurate. That it is still very outdated in some respects. There is so much more coming from these big Autism organizations that are helping alleviate those misconceptions and educating the masses. I pointed her to a few good resources to help her better understand that there is so much more to this disability than a diet a child eats or a immunizations a child has. Yes there can be reactions to diet and vaccines but neither one is the direct result of Autism. 
I was proud to really spend time educating someone tonight. I really felt she listened to what I had to say and respected my thoughts and opinions on this matter. I hope I can spend time educating more around me who are not aware of what Autism and all that goes with it is. It is a great and empowering feeling. Something we all know I enjoy every now and then.