I have two children, one who has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum and one who hasn’t. I love them both with every fiber of my being, and I wouldn’t change either of them for anything. There are days when I fail horribly at being even a good enough parent for them, days when I get things wrong, wrong, wrong, and we all end up in tears. The thing is, I don’t think that’s unique to parenting special needs children, I think it’s just part of parenting. I didn’t become a parent because I thought it would be easy, so I’m OK with the work aspect of it. And it really is work. Being a mother is hard work physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and all of that hard work pays off in growth. My arm muscles are stronger, my heart is stronger, and my soul feels greatly expanded and illuminated.
Over this past year, I’ve shifted from reading blogs by other parents who are raising kids on the spectrum to reading blogs and articles by adults on the spectrum, people who are neurodiversity and autism activists. I’m saddened by the gulf that seems to exist between some of the parents of kids on the spectrum and some adults on the spectrum who are not their children. There’s so much potential for misunderstanding and disagreement. Some parents see their children on the autism spectrum as diseased, in need of a cure; many adults on the autism spectrum are very clear that they are not diseased, they’re just wired differently from the majority, and in need of acceptance.
All I can say is that what I wish for my child on the spectrum is exactly what I wish for my other child, and every child and adult around the world. I’d like a world in which we don’t just tolerate each other, but truly accept each other, with all of our similarities and differences. I’d like a world where we see these differences as valuable, giving us access to new perspectives and ideas and ways of being that enlarge our understanding of humanity and enrich our own lives with new possibilities. I’d like a world in which we treat each person we meet as an individual unique in the history of the world, with a combination of needs and gifts that we’ve never encountered in exactly the same nuanced blend before.
I’d like a world in which we see ourselves and each other, ever single other, as beings carrying an equal spark of holiness inside (and please, define holy however you like). I don’t think it matters so much whether you believe in a divine presence or presences, what matters is that we each believe that we are all equal at the core, and that this equality rests somewhere well above and beyond our human laws, fears, and pettiness. We need to see and respect a fundamental equality that just IS, not one that has anything to do with economic contribution to society, intellectual prowess, athletic strength, or any other conditional hurdle. I think that shift in our collective consciousness would motivate us to work to include each other in society. We’d want to make changes and accommodations wherever that might help, not out of grudging tolerance or because of federal mandates, but because we want to see the unique but equally holy spark within each person fueled for maximum shine and expansion.