Autism is not a disease

autistickidcropNo one showed up for this boy’s birthday.

I get it. He’s autistic. I can just hear the teachers talking about his “social skills deficits,” parents whispering that he’s “out of control,” and kids calling him “weird.”

I know because that’s how it was with my son. Although Ben didn’t have the same experience, he experienced the same pain: not understanding the social conventions, what he was doing wrong or why he was being picked on.

I remember one time driving to his therapy group when he told me the tortures he’d endured that day. (The minute I dropped him off, I went straight to the neighborhood bar for a scotch, something I’d never done before—and haven’t since.)

Somehow Ben made it through all this to become the young man he is today—beautiful inside and out.  People love him wherever we go,  because he’s so there when he’s with you. He looks at you without pretense or judgment and really listens, and responds thoughtfully.

No wonder Ben is pissed when people refer to autism as a disease. He sees it as his identity—and wonders what’s so great about being “normal.”

But getting back to the other little boy. His mother posted something on Facebook and the town’s fire fighters, adults, and children all turned out  to celebrate.autistic-firemen

It’s such a pleasure to hear about people doing the right thing, we ought to pass it on.