Normal is a Laundry Setting.

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normal-washer-settingThere’s a reason I don’t write much about my son Sebby’s Autism. It comes down to one very important thing: In many ways, it’s not my story to tell. It’s his story. And while his diagnosis does affect me, it’s still about him.

That doesn’t however keep me from speaking up, from being his advocate, from being his champion. Because you know what? Someone has to. Whether it’s him or another child on the spectrum.

I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I’ve heard or read someone refer to a child with Autism is not normal or unhealthy. It’s infuriating. It’s insensitive. It’s a lot of things. I posted about this on my personal Facebook page last week and it resonated with far too many people I know. That makes me sad. To know that so many feel that their children are considered weak or sickly or whatever some people think Autism as.

Don’t get me started on the people that misconstrue an Autism meltdown as a tantrum and make assumptions that it’s poor parenting and the child just needs a good beating  spanking to set them straight. By all means, if you think you can smack a child out of a meltdown, go right ahead. I’ll sit back and call the police and report you for assault while you do.

I’m humored by people that think Autism can be “cured” by discipline, diet, therapy, oils etc. Can it be helped? Sure. Can you give people coping skills to improve their lives? Absolutely. But does it make them less normal or healthy to need these things?

Holy shit y’all, if I could make Sebby’s Autism go away so he could be “normal” to society’s standards don’t you think I would have by now? Don’t you think ANY parent who has a child or children with Autism for that matter would?

What defines normal anyway? None of us fit into a perfect cookie cutter world. No one is perfect. I know what the dictionary definition of normal is, you don’t need to tell me, but the thing is, Sebby doesn’t.

Autism has robbed enough from him as it is without people calling him not normal. We’ve lost friends, he’s overlooked for parties, and he misses out on the every day moments YOUR kids take for granted.

I try my damnedest to give Sebby a typical life. To create amazing opportunities for him. To give him the childhood every kid deserves.  He deserves the same experiences as his “typical” peers.

While we’re here, how about not calling ANY child with special needs not normal. Because really, this isn’t just about Autism. Yes, some kids are different than yours but you’re really not helping society by calling a child that uses crutches, or has an aide or needs a little extra therapy “not normal.” All that does is continue the stigma. So just stop.

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About Kerri Jablonski

Kerri Jablonski AKA The Maven lives in Seattle,WA with her 3 kids (2008, 2010, 2013), husband, cat and backyard chickens. Two of her children have special needs. Kerri enjoys cooking, travel, movies and spending time with her family.

Comments

  1. This is SUCH a great post. . .”normal” is a word I have tried to remove from my vocabulary, when describing a person . . .like “stupid” . . . it’s just not accurate. Many many people have “issues”, struggles, idiosyncrasies . . .call them what you will – it’s what makes the world go round.

  2. There is SO much stigma out there about autism it’s infuriating! I get where you’re coming from Kerri, so much that it just hurts to think about sometimes. I see my own son be excluded even at family get together’s because he can’t follow rules or he breaks things or, or, or…..
    I often have to take him aside and entertain him myself, which means I don’t get to just hang out with the other grownups and talk grown up talk.
    It’s gotten better as he has matured some, but it still hurts when the people you love the most just don’t get it or even try too.

  3. This is such a great post. Standing and cheering, because, really, I don’t have anything else to add.

  4. Then they are not your people. If they tribe doesn’t get you, you go get a new tribe. Come sit by me. I have fries.

  5. People have to understand that it’s just a different way of functioning, not better or worse. We have a lot of family that suffers from varying degrees of Autism. It has helped us a lot to just listen to their side instead of judging or offering advice on something we’re not an expert on. Many don’t realize the pain they can cause with thoughtless comments!

  6. I didn’t always get it until I met friends like you and a few others with children with autism. But honestly what is normal anyway? Every kid has something unique they’re dealing with so I’m glad that I’ve opened my mind to that fact so that I can be less judgmental and have more empathy. So many people say things without realizing how much it affects others.

  7. Bravo Kerri. What really got me was the tantrum paragraph, speaking about the recent viral video of the boy hysterical in the car. That child was being taunted – dare I say bullied – by the person filming him (I am assuming the father). I have no doubt in my mind that the child is on the spectrum. Many people think of Autism as one note – the quiet in-his-own-mind child who sees things differently, learns differently, like the boy in the finale of the old series St. Elsewhere (see how I dated myself there?). Children on the spectrum can be mildly – or wildly – one way or another. A puzzle.

    Great post.

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