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"I love you just the way you are..."

I originally wrote this post close to a year ago. At the time, I was writing about PJ's diagnosis in a space separate from this blog. I said it was because I wanted a space to be "snarky" and "brave" about Autism, but really, I just wasn't ready to share it on my "real" blog.

Ugh. What a pussy.

I eventually faced facts and realized that Autism is, indeed, here to stay, unwelcome little asshat that it is. That was progress, right? I felt pretty damn good about it, and then I realized that if Autism hadn't snuck in, PJ wouldn't have, either. To wish away Autism would be to wish away my kid. It's one of the many, many lessons I learn every single damn day. Thank God.

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While PJ was in his room peacefully napping alternately chatting to himself about all of the characters on Caillou and saying “Call now, call now!” (proof that, perhaps, he watches too much television), I took part in a Twitter chat hosted by USA Today on the topic of Autism. There were a number of experts in the field- physicians, researchers, advocates, etc.- who were handling tons of questions. As a whole, the chat was amazing- there were so many voices with so many useful, relevant things to say. I was especially happy to see users with Autism/Aspbergers/PDD/etc taking part. Seeing so many strong, intelligent, capable, autistic adults filled my heart- it’s everything I want for PJ as he evolves into his own person.

At one point, I saw this question scroll by:



Oh, hell, no. No, you did not just ask that.

I was restricted to the Twitter norm of 140 characters when I originally answered that question, but it annoyed me enough to want to answer it here.

My son has Autism. It is what it is. Yes, we treat it with therapy because we want our son to have every tool possible in order to access his full potential. That potential will be whatever it is- he may be president or he may live with his parents forever. PJ is funny, happy, smart, loving, and eats well enough to warm any Jewish mamas heart! He came with blonde hair, his fathers flat ass, my stubborn streak, and he came with Autism. To wish any of that away would be to wish my son away. I love every part of him because I love him.

That said, yes, I sometimes wish that Autism hadn’t happened. There are a thousand and twelve other things I would rather do with my son then send him to a special-needs preschool at such a young age or spend hours each week in therapy. I hate that there’s risks of having another child with autism. I didn’t sit under power lines, eating sushi and drinking Malibu and Diet’s while pregnant going “C’mooooooooooooon, Autism!”. I didn’t want Autism and I won’t even pretend to apologize for that.

Look, I didn’t have a full understanding of how it works until the moment PJ was in my arms. While I was pregnant, I didn’t want PJ to have any diseases or disabilities, noticeable moles, green eyes, curly hair, or an affinity for Ann Coulter. Then I met him, and even if he’d slid on out with a hardback version of Ann Coulter’s latest piece of dreck in his slimy little hand, it would not have mattered.

This post is getting rambly in my fervent hope of getting down on paper the assertion that I haven’t, don’t, woudn’t and can’t ever wish my child didn’t exist because he’s not the way I had imagined. That’s not even possible, and I resented the question, even if it did come from someone who seemed truly lovely, and posted thoughtful comments throughout the discussion. Therapy, doctors visits, Early Intervention…I’m not trying to change the intricacies of who my son is. All my husband and I want is for PJ to be the best possible version of himself, whoever that may be.

I may not have wished for Autism, but I wished with my whole heart for PJ.

Comments

I think you expressed that beautifully.

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Today is April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day, and it is Autism Awareness Month.

The month begins on the heels of news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Autism is on the rise. 1 in 68 children in the areas followed by the CDC are identified as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder, up from 1 in 88 just a few years ago. In New Jersey, the numbers are far higher then the national average at 1 in 45. 

You can view a summary of the latest CDC report here, but there are two points of the report that stood out to me:
Less than half (44%) of children identified with ASD were evaluated for developmental concerns by the time they were 3 years old.Most children identified with ASD were not diagnosed until after age 4, even though children can be diagnosed as early as age 2.Content source: National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
PJ was diagnosed with Autism shortly after his second birthday. Pete and I had already utilized an e…