But he looks so normal! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard this, and it never bothers me. Guess what? Sometimes I want to say it! I see this beautiful boy running around at the park, swinging in my yard, laughing with his brothers, and yes, he does look so normal. I’ve even said it in my head about other kids I see at OT and Speech.
I don’t even mind when someone says, “I’m sorry” in response to my son’s diagnosis. I’ve even said I’m sorry to friends who have received the same news, because I genuinely am sorry for the struggles they have faced and will continue to face. I’m sorry that they have to watch their child struggle to make sense of this world, and I’m sorry for the heart-ache any special need can bring.
Saying I’m sorry in no way discounts their child. It’s just like if someone told me that their child was sick, I would say the same thing, or if their child suffers from OCD or depression. Personally, I feel it’s okay to say I’m sorry. Truly, there’s no perfect response when someone says that their child has been diagnosed with Autism. Anything from the heart is good in my book.
What I can’t stand is when people force me to justify why my son was diagnosed. I’m not talking about the genuinely inquisitive questions about Autism and his personal struggles. I’m referring to the accusatory interrogation from skeptics. If you have a child on the spectrum, you know what I’m talking about. I HATE trying to prove to someone why he has Autism.
Previously, I would oblige their debate, pointing out all my son’s shortcomings and issues, but I no longer feel the need. Several agencies, specialists, doctors, and professionals including a government agency, my insurance, and the school district all agree that my son, in deed, has Autism.
Getting to the diagnosis is painful enough. Please don’t ask me to relive it by forcing me to explain to you all the issues he has, and just because you read one or two articles or saw a news story or documentary about Autism does not give you the right to question me and the handful of professionals I mentioned above.
No, my son doesn’t “look” autistic. Much like, a child who has cancer doesn’t necessarily look like cancer. My son is beautiful. He lives life to its fullest and brings joy to everyone that meets him. He looks like God’s beautiful creation, a sweet boy who can light up a room and brighten anyone’s day with his welcoming hello. He’s all of the above, AND he is autistic. This doesn’t take away from who he is and who God created him to be. He’s different but equal, but aren’t we all?