When our son was diagnosed with autism, we Googled a bunch of stuff. We read a few websites and scholarly articles. But most of what we learned about his disability was framed by doctors we spoke with.
As much as I love doctors, their sense of disability can be limited. For them, it’s a condition or disorder that must be medicated or treated. Unfortunately, that puts a negative spin on the concept of disability. They think of it as something that needs to be fixed, rather than part of who my son is.
Lately, I’ve been reading authors who have disabilities. They describe it differently than most doctors. For these writers, their disability is simply a way of being— a part of their identity.
That’s the way I like to think about it.
Maybe, as parents, we need to expand our thinking on the entire experience of having a disability. Maybe we should speak with other parents. Maybe we should speak with adults with disabilities. From them, we can better understand the path that our child is on.
There’s room for everyone to help us learn about disabilities—not only doctors.
If I had talked to other parents and adults with disabilities, I might have relaxed and better figured out who I need to be as a dad to help my son be the best he can possibly be.
Follow Shailen’s other insights through his articles on this site.
Autism is a very tricky diagnosis that can affect speech. My son was somewhat verbal throughout his early years, although he did quite a bit of pointing and gesturing. From the early days, we’ve come a long way.
Categories: Family Support