This could be a potentially divisive post so I just want to start off by emphasising this is my personal opinion. I am by no means seeking to detract from anyone who may be seeking an autism cause or cure. These are purely my own musings on this topic after many years of special needs parenting.
In the various online forums I frequent, there are often repeated discussions around the possible causes for autism. Over the years, like many of you, I’ve read various articles listing all the potential causes of autism from birth trauma, gut issues, medication and depression right through to vaccinations, genetics and the impact of various environmental factors.
Occasionally there are conversations too around the latest claims of an autism cure. Again, over the years many claims have been made citing certain diets, therapies and medications as the elusive “cure.” And, each time, the claim is debunked or replaced by a new theory. To be honest I don’t pay much attention to these claims anymore – they never amount to much anyway.
So when these discussions come up, as they periodically do, I usually don’t participate or actively engage as I’m personally not interested in either an autism cause or cure.
Why? After many years of this special needs parenting gig, I recognise that my limited energy and efforts are best utilised looking for ways to help my kids in the here and now.
My two spectrum kids – Gilbert & Matilda
I’m much better placed to proactively help my kids navigate the world around them rather than spend my time searching for, dwelling on or wishing for an ever elusive autism cause or cure.
It’s easy to get caught up in these discussions, especially if you are new to the autism parenting world and desperate to find out all you can. You want to know everything about the condition, how to best connect with your child and, ultimately, how you can make your child’s life happier and healthier.
I know. I’ve been there. More than once, with dual autism and albinism diagnoses for my son together with an aspergers diagnosis for my daughter.
Initially, like most parents following a diagnosis, I read all I could on autism and the ways I could help my kids. I read all the articles listing all the possible causes of autism. I was obsessed with finding out all I could and identifying the right therapies and strategies to help both of them.
Except, I spent more time researching all this stuff than actually following through and helping my children.
In the end I had to pull myself up and recognise that MY need to know the “why” wasn’t helping THEIR needs at all. They need me to help them navigate the world around them. They need me to be their advocate. They need me to love and protect and understand them – unreservedly and unconditionally.
My kids don’t need me getting caught up in the why or the how of autism – they just need me to accept them as they are.
And I do.
I suspect there will never be a single autism cause or cure identified. Just as there is no one presentation of autism. Or one therapy system that works for everyone.
And I’m okay with that. Because I’m not looking for an autism cause or cure.
I’m just looking for the best way to help my kids x
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I just read a quote that I want to write on – roughly ‘Parenthood is not about the child you thought you’d have, you need parent and celebrate the child they are, and if you’re lucky they’ll teach you to be the person you need to be’
Exactly – I’d love to read your take on that Lydia. It seems we are all focused on who we should be and what our kids should be doing rather than celebrating who we are and all the wonderful things that we do.
I think you’ve nailed it- the here and now is more important than the why. Well said.
Thanks Amy. Pity it took me more time than it should have to come to the realisation…
Totally agree. It doesn’t matter what caused it, or even what you call it; what matters is what is needed each and everyday to help your child better navigate their world. I have actually wondered if there was a cure, would I even want it for my son, as he might not be himself without all his little idiosyncrasies; because despite the struggles, he has an awesome personality that I would hate him to lose.
I feel the same Nikki and I did partly write on that very point before scaling the post back. I don;t think I’d want to change my kids at all. I love their personalities. I do want to help them feel less anxious and to better communicate with the world around them but I wouldn’t want to change THEM. We don’t need a cure – we need acceptance.
You summed it all up in one sentence. “My kids don’t need me getting caught up in the why or the how of autism – they just need me to accept them as they are.” Hear, hear …
Thanks Leanne x
You said it…
It’s all about helping them become the greatest they can be, you can’t change the why.
But you can change their lives.
Exactly. I want to accept who they are and help them be the best they can be. Pretty much what every parent aims to do!
Well-done and good for you in making this a post which says exactly what you mean. You are proactive and a mother with a great deal of love and care for her kids. They’re great kids. You already know that. No more ‘trying to make it better’ other than to ensure their place in this world is better for them. Good stuff, Kirsty. Please tell the world more about this! You have a gift in your words to share. Thank you Denyse
Such a great post. I would not want to find a ‘cure’ either because I don’t think there is anything wrong with kids or adults with this diagnosis. They are just different. There are things that they find harder than others and that is where a diagnosis helps. We are all different and have our own needs, talents, strengths and weaknesses. I wouldn’t change my ASD child for the world, nor would I change his NT sister. They are both incredibly wonderful, talented kids and growing into remarkable adults. Yes, we’ve had some challenges and I’m sure we will in the future – but parenting can be tough (I believe) at various stages no matter what. It’s been so rewarding to watch the things that made my son different and made his life difficult as a youngster are now actually helping him find his path, do well in and out of school, and make him a popular and well-liked member of the school community. And I always knew that would happen, because the world needs people on the spectrum. That may be simplistic, and I’ve skipped over some of the hard times – the meltdowns (his), the tears (mine), fears (probably both of us), the many visits to specialists etc – but every minute has been worthwhile and we are all closer and more resilient as a result. My son’s sister is an incredibly compassionate, patient young woman too, because she has dealt with all this, and she’s always been called on to help others in our class who might need help settling in. When I’ve volunteered at school excursions, we are often paired with ASD kids, because the teacher knows we’ll cope and actually enjoy ourselves. No, I would’t change it.