There is No-one Alive Who is Youer than You

Although I am a bit behind on my prompts, I am participating in the WEGO Health “Advocating for Another” carnival, in which I describe our lives as an autism family.

Today’s prompt (OK, yesterday’s prompt): Quote, End Quote. Post – Let someone else’s wise words inspire you. Find a quote that moves you in some way then free-write about it. Don’t stop writing for 15-20 mins. Now post!

Dr. Seuss was a wise man. He had so many profound things to say that one could be forgiven for thinking he was a philosopher disguised as a children’s storybook writer. I am raising my children to live by the words of Dr. Seuss, because he really did have sound advice for every occasion.

A couple of years ago, I came to the uncomfortable realization that I had fallen into the habit of inadvertently defining my son by virtue of his autism. It was always the first thing I told anyone.

When asked about my family, I would volunteer the information that I was married with two boys. “My older son has autism,” I would say, as if my audience just had to know that about George.

The truth is that I have been so determined to be open about my son’s autism in order to knock on the head any notion that there should be a stigma attached to it. But I started wondering if perhaps I was doing my son a disservice by labeling him from the outset, and thereby creating an instant perception that was based on his diagnosis, and not on who he is as a person.

So I decided to change my approach. While I will never, ever make any effort to hide the fact of George’s autism, I no longer make a point of stating it up front. Because George is not just a boy with autism. He is a boy, a beautiful person with individuality and many great qualities, and he has the right for people to get to know him as such.

The subject of autism always comes up, and it never takes very long. I am always happy to talk about autism and the challenges of special needs parenting, but now it is something that arises naturally in the course of conversation. I no longer treat it as the central element to my son’s existence.

I want George to grow up knowing that he is loved and valued because of the person he is. There is no-one in the world like him, and every day I thank my lucky stars that I’m the one who gets to be his mother.

(Photo credit: Brendan-c. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)