Thursday, May 5, 2011

Would I Take Away My Son’s Autism?

I’ve seen a lot of discussion around the hypothetical question, “If there was a pill that could take away your child’s autism, would you give it to him?” Jillsmo over at the Yeah, Good Times blog recently tackled that question with a thoughtful response titled “Yes, I Would.”

Upon first reading her post, my immediate response was “of course, I would do the same.”

Of course I would want my son to stay regulated, and not engage in self-injurious behavior.

Of course I would want to take away his anxieties.

Of course I would want him to be able to fully express all the marvelous thoughts he has in his head.

Of course I would want him to be able to make friends and participate appropriately in social situations.

Of course I would want him to eventually live independently and to have a productive life.

Of course.

But as I thought about it some more, I realized that there was more to it than that.

Besides all of the terrible things, how else is autism affecting my child?

Would he have his incredible math skills if it weren’t for autism?

How much of his quirky, but oh so loveable behavior, is due to his autism? Would he still be interested in things like the periodic table?

Would he ever ask for hugs again?

For a long time after Kai was diagnosed, I tried to figure out which of his characteristics and behaviors were typical of boys his age, which were caused by autism, and which were particular to his individual personality, regardless of autism. After awhile, I stopped trying to figure it all out. I decided that it didn’t really matter. It was all Kai, whether it was due to his autism or not.

When it comes to hypothetical questions like these, I feel the same way. Until we learn more about autism, until we really know not only what causes it but also what are all of its effects, until such a magic pill is real, it does not really matter.

I love my son for who he is. And, nothing will change that.

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