A few months back we had gone to a restaurant with my sister when my son started singing. His one passion in life is music and he unabashedly started belting out one song after the other. As he was singing in abandon we started receiving looks from the other diners. We continued chatting and enjoying our meal and did nothing to dissuade him. After a while the looks turned to amused glances and smiles and we could even see some folks enjoy his singing.
After we came home my sister said,” It was lovely to see Dhruv singing and enjoying himself but it was even more lovely to see how chilled out you and Gopan were, you guys did not appear embarrassed at all.” I told her we have accepted him Autism et all and if we had stopped him from singing he probably would have never sung again.
What does Autism acceptance truly mean? Many a time I hear parents say they/their spouses have accepted Autism but are not ready to tell the world. Autism Acceptance is not for the world. Just saying you have accepted Autism is not enough, you need to show it in your actions as well. Children with Autism are very perceptive and are smart enough to pick up vibes. So if you have not accepted your child’s Autism and behave differently when people are around, he will feel it. He will then start thinking you are ashamed of him and develop low self esteem. The child’s progress will get affected and no amount of therapy will help. It is like you are either pregnant or not. Similarly you have either accepted the Autism or not.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying take a loudspeaker and announce it to the world but yes do be sensitive to the child and start working on acceptance if you are still in denial or hoping for a miraculous cure. Lets say you have gone out with friends who are not aware of his Autism. You are going to be like a cat on a hot tin roof worried the child may say or do something that embarrasses you. Your friends may end up thinking you are a helicopter mom or worse you have a spoilt brat. So social outings instead of being fun could turn out to be nightmares for you.
In this crazy confusing world, we are the beacon of light that illuminates the path for our children and as parents we owe it to them to accept and support them in a positive and loving way. A child who is loved and accepted for who he is tends to be a happy child and progresses well. Autism is tough and acceptance does not come easily for most. Once I accepted the Autism my life became much simpler as I did not have to worry about people. I realised if someone cares they will be there Autism or not and if they are not,well I am better off without them.
In a nutshell accepting the Autism does not mean your struggles are over but it definitely makes life much easier and the time spent worrying in “log kya kahenge” can be spent with your child having fun and creating some happy memories