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What Does Autism Change?

Cross posted at Say Anything: Reader blogs.


The following article appeared in Sunday's Parade Magazine:
Autism Changes Everything
For a while, we mourned the loss of the little boy we knew and all we hoped he would become someday.

Our grief evolved into feelings of anger and, eventually, determination.

We’re now playing catch-up as we try to stem the tide and ultimately eradicate autism for the sake of future generations. If we continue our current trajectory, we’ll get there in my lifetime.
(Hat tip Autism Vox.)

When my first born was still a baby a friend asked my husband and I what hopes and dreams we had for his life. I thought about it for a while and realised that when I looked at my son's future I saw a grey unshaped mass. I had no plans for his future because I had no idea what the future would bring. At most I hoped that he would grow up to be a happy, responsible, upright citizen. Too often I had seen people suffering under the burden of the plans their parents had for their lives, unable to pursue their own dreams for themselves. I didn't want to make that particular mistake with my own children.

I suppose this is why I never felt devastated or robbed when I learned that my children were autistic. If anything I was relieved because I was better able to understand my children. It was a bit like looking at one of those images in the Sunday comics that at first don't look like anything but when you like at them in the right way the image becomes clear.

Suzanne Wright clearly had some definite plans for her grandson that she thinks were stolen away from her when she learned that he is autistic. She wants her dreams and plans for her grandson's life back. To that end the co-founder of the juggernaut Autism Speaks has set out to eradicate autism.

I don't know about you but I find some very unpleasant implications in Wright's desire to eradicate autism. Generations of autistic children have grown up to be autistic adults, how can autism be eradicated without eradicating them? My autistic children are going to grow up to be autistic adults, how can autism be eradicated without eradicating them? Generations of autistic individuals are yet to be born, will they be allowed to exist if eradication of autism is made the goal of our society?

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