So, this week I find myself writing about a topic very close to my heart. Earlier this week my sister forwarded me an article which had her completely dumbfounded about a church who claimed that children with autism can be healed with bleach. What a load of CRAP! I became outraged. Outraged because people think it’s ok to write articles like this. Outraged because children with autism DO NOT I repeat DO NOT need to be cured. Outraged because they are treating children with autism like they are have an illness that needs curing. Autism can’t be cured. What people fail to realise is that all they need is to be understood. A child with autism needs access to resources to help them understand what autism means for their life. Parents of a child with autism needs access to resources to help them learn how to make everyday life easier for their child and how to understand and support them. A child with autism doesn’t need the rest of the world to try and cure them, they need the rest of the world to show kindness and understanding.
When I said this topic was close to my heart it is because my beautiful nephew has autism. I remember chatting with sister before he was diagnosed and her telling me that the hardest thing was people looking at her in judgement because he would only drink milk from a bottle at the age of 3. To everyone on the outside looking in, he looked like a perfectly healthy normal 3-year-old. You see these people didn’t see the real situation, the truth. Which was that he had sensory issues, that my sister had been fighting with a health system that kept telling her he will grow out of it. That my sister had been doing everything she could to get her son to eat, to get some guidance and help from the health department. Eventually after 18 months of fighting she finally got the help she needed, she had a diagnosis. Her son had autism. Together they began a journey of therapy together.
I remember very clearly the first day I told someone that my nephew had autism and their response was ‘shame, I’m sorry.’ I could not understand why they thought it was so terrible. Yes, he has autism, but he DOES NOT have a terminal illness. He is a beautiful, healthy amazing little boy that will grow up to have a long and healthy life.
I watched and supported my sister as she started therapy to help my nephew catch up developmentally and socially. I watched as she learnt how to give him all the understanding and support he needed just to make his day to day life easier. I am going to slightly digress here and say I am so super proud of my sister, she is a real life super mum. She saw that her son needed help, she didn’t bury her head in the sand, instead she accepted it and began the fight to get the help he needed. She has done and continues do everything she possibly can to help him. And it is with all that hard work, that understanding and support that he now attends main stream school. That he received the most improved award in year one, which he bravely climbed up on stage in front of the whole school to accept (this is huge for a child with autism), all the while my sister and her husband looked on in tears. He will now try and eat new foods. His social skills have greatly improved. Autism will always be a part of his life, he will always be autistic, but with a lot of understanding and support he will grow up to live a long and healthy life. So, let’s stop trying to cure autism and instead start show understanding, compassion and support.
So even if autism could be healed, which it can’t, I wouldn’t want to change my nephew. He is who he is and if you ask me he is a pretty bloody amazing little boy. He is kind, polite, sweet and gentle. The way he loves and cares for my children is beyond amazing. You see if he didn’t have autism he wouldn’t be the person he is. The person who we all completely love and adore.
And to all the people out there watching on as parents struggle with getting their children to conform to the ‘NORM’ please do not judge as you just don’t know about the struggles they are dealing with that you can’t see. Show those mums some support and understanding, trust me it makes an enormous difference.