As Parents, We Need to Start a Conversation About Autism

I read an article today about autism. It said children with autism most likely won’t show affection. They won’t need affection. They won’t understand emotion. They won’t have empathy or sympathy.

Then I went onto read an article about an autistic boy that attacked his teacher. I noticed no one asked why. The child was labeled as a monster. No one questioned the school. Instead, it labeled the seven-year-old boy as autistic. I heard words like aggressive. Angry. And the police were called.

I let myself read another article about an autistic high schooler who won prom king. The girl who went with him was praised as a hero. She was praised for doing something that was framed as monumental. Talking to a boy with autism.

And then one more article. This one said special ed kids are stealing money from the gifted programs. The comments were inexcusable. ‘Why even waste time teaching these kids to sit up?’ ‘These kids aren’t going to amount to anything. Just keep them home.’ I was horrified. Because you know, special education only happens to ‘other’ people. Not to these people.

Each article rubbed me the wrong way.

If you google autism, these are the stories you find. The dramatic ones. The extreme ones. And the incredibly sad part is that the average public reads a story like this and believes they are true for every child. I hear it every day. People will think that autistic kids are included in schools because they saw on the news that a boy was invited to prom. Or they will think every autistic boy is violent because they read a story.

It’s sad and wrong.

These stories aren’t our autism. They don’t talk about the struggles, victories, or worries.

Why do I share our life? Because of stories like the ones above.

We are here to shatter the misconceptions. Autistic children do show love. They aren’t always violent. And if they are, we need to figure out why. And they don’t all win prom king.

Some of the kids, like my son, are just regular kids…who may not talk. And who need a little extra help. And deserve to be treated fairly and equally. They live in our communities. They are just people.

My son is the sweetest, most loving child. He cries when anyone is yelled at. He can’t handle being yelled at himself. He immediately demands a hug and a kiss. But because he can’t say ‘I love you’ out loud (he can sign it) he’s labeled as not loving.

Well, every single day, my autistic son carries pictures of his favorite people. And he lines them up around him. He sleeps with them. He ‘talks’ to them. He shows them to strangers. If that isn’t showing love I don’t know what is.

I want families like mine to start talking. Start a conversation with a woman at the grocery store. Talk to a stranger at the park. Talk about autism in conversation. Stop hiding. Share your story. Put a face with autism and shatter the misconceptions. Humanize it. Make it real.

That’s how change happens. It starts with us. The parents. The story tellers.

This is my favorite picture of our autism. He’s all love.

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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