My Duty as the Mother of an Autistic Child
My duties as the mother of an Autistic child are similar, in some ways, to the duties that I have to my neurotypical children. I must protect him and I must teach him. I have to teach him how to stay safe and how to make good decisions that will not lead him into danger. I must teach him to have respect for the feelings of other people. I teach him to avoid hurting anyone else. I teach him basic survival information, such as his address, phone number, and parents’ names.
My duties to him, however, go a bit deeper. It is my responsibility to try to make the world a better place for him. I want to open hearts and minds, to show people how wonderful children and adults such as him are. It is my duty, and my honor, to spread the word about Autism.
I do this through the book I wrote about him, through this blog, through conversations with people I know personally, and through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The more I speak out, the more I come outside of my natural shell – the more people can be reached.
If I do not spread the word, humanize these precious people for the rest of the world, then I am a part of the problem. I cannot allow people such as my son to pushed under the rug or into some lonely dark corner. I will not allow that to happen. My love for my child is greater than my need for a quiet life.
I recently asked a male coworker if he had checked out my blog. He often comes across as socially inept, and he informed me that he does not go on Facebook. I told him that he doesn’t have to go on Facebook in order to view my blog. I told him that he can come right to the site.
He said that he doesn’t talk to anyone online. I said he didn’t have to talk to anyone; he could simply read.
I went on to tell him that my blog gives the reader insight into my son, my family, me, and the challenges that we, as a family, face because of Cameron’s high-functioning Autism. His reaction, whether he was serious or simply kidding (as he later claimed to be doing), hurt my feelings.
He said, “Oh, so it’s all about you, you, you. That’s okay. If I’d done what you’ve done, I’d be all about myself too.”
He was referring to the fact that I am raising a child with special needs and have written two books. At that moment, I didn’t care about whether or not he was recognizing anything I have done.
To put it quite simply, he hurt my feelings. I was quite upset. I was trying to share a part of myself, a deeper part, something that means a lot to me. I felt that I was being misjudged. I asked myself, “How could someone think something so unkind about me? If I am being perceived like this, what good am I doing Cameron?”
The thing is, if something means a lot to you, you cannot be silent about it. You want to spread the word. You want people to see the deeper parts of the situation. As the parent of an Autistic child, you want people to see your child’s heart, as well as the love and sincerity that you hold within your own heart.
With this in mind, I will continue to go outside of my comfort zone. I will fight for my child. I will spread the word. I will attempt to change the world on my child’s behalf. If I touch even a small part of the world for him, it may accept him more readily than those who have come before him have experienced.