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What Most Parents Should Want

July 29, 2010

“My comfort zones have widened, not getting rattled by “abnormal” as I once did.  I used to feel uncomfortable with the mentally and emotionally disabled, now I am not.”  –Dr. Rob

We’ve all had that experience, I’m sure, of taking our child with a disability out, either to an appointment or to an event, only to have someone, the doctor or a bystander, give our child a look, pull back, or begin to talk to our child differently once the person realizes our child has a disability or an issue. My oldest hates it when a doctor, once aware of his autism, either starts to talk loudly to him (he’s not hard of hearing) or over him as if he weren’t there.

So, one would have thought that this post by Dr. Rob would have many in the autism community glad to see a health care professional who gets it, who sees our children for who they are, who values them as they are. One would have thought. But no. AoA can’t do that, and for some reason that completely escapes me, Stagliano had to take this positive piece by the doctor and link it to the alleged murder-suicide by a mother of her 12 year old autistic son, replete with a picture of a pink handgun, I guess, all the more to match her book cover which appears below the short, twisted post. In fact, Stag’s new bio is one half the length of the short article she posted, all with information on when her book will be available.

Dr. Rob’s post is an important post, one that we should encourage. Angry parents need to take a minute, pull their heads out of their backsides and really read the words on the screen. I am continually dismayed at how anger and desperation can so badly pollute the dialogue and twist the meaning of others’ words.

Acceptance doesn’t mean not assisting, not helping, not working to improve. It means accepting the inherent value and worth in each and every individual. It means not shrinking away from those who are different, not treating them like the other, as if they are less than human.

Here is a doctor who writes about what he has learned, who shares how he has comes to see autistic individuals as worthwhile, valuable individuals to be treated and interacted with in the same respectful, accepting way you would treat a “normal” patient. It is absolutely what any parent of a child with a disability should want.

How the hell do you miss that? How?

My son attends a center for the physically and neurologically disabled. The individuals there are diverse and represent a wide swath of the potential developmental and physical disabilities that are possible. When I go to an event at the center, I watch the interaction of the staff with the clients and with outsiders, like the reporter who came to the last event, to see how the clients are treated. The staff treats my son and his friends with respect and acceptance. As I watched the local female anchor from one of the stations interact with the clients, looking them in the eyes, shaking their hands, interacting with them casually and naturally, I was deeply impressed. That doesn’t happen in the wider world far too much of the time. As I listened to one of the clients speak about what the center meant to her because there at the center she was treated like she was normal, I had, as my daughter calls them, leaky eyes.

What I work for, what I believe in, what I want more than anything is for people like my children, like your children, like you, like my son’s friends at the center, like my mother’s patients at the supported living center, to be treated with respect and acceptance. Genuine, heartfelt acceptance. The kind of acceptance and appreciation that Dr. Rob displayed with his post.

The kind of acceptance and appreciation that the readers (and managing editor) of AoA have decided to crap all over.

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