In the current climate of understated research findings, referenced by the much-publicized, but not-so-startling discovery that “autism is stressful for parents,” I would like to join in the trend of groundbreaking underestimation. Ready? Here goes….Autism is an adjustment process. Yep, you heard it here, in all of its lack of clarity and definition. Autism is an adjustment.
And I like the phrase. Adjustment is a much more positive descriptor than the alternatives my husband and I heard when we first learned about our son’s diagnosis. Phrases we heard were autism is a grieving process, or a he’ll-grow-out-of-it process, or for the disenchanted, hell on earth.
Grieving, with its related denial, anger and sadness, seems to be most similar to what many parents feel as they begin to wrap their heads, arms and hearts around autism. But unlike grieving, there is no finality, because we don’t know when or even if autism will end. And more importantly, do we really want to grieve for our child? No! We want to celebrate him for the wonderful, atypically-normal little boy that he is. Those of us with children on the spectrum know exactly what I’m talking about. Our children are quirky and they do need extra help, but first and foremost, they are kids, and we love ‘em.
So we learn to adjust. All of us. Parents, teachers, the community and our own children.
Let’s hear it for understatement.