Sorry about the somewhat obscure 80's Men At Work song reference in this entry's title. I just love Colin Hay... And it'll make sense as you read on.
I've read that sometimes when people get ill or have an ailment that sticks with them for a long time, they can start to look at that ailment as a companion. Not a friend mind you, but something/someone that is with you a lot. I've also seen blogs, posts on Facebook, and other writing by people (mostly adults) on the autism spectrum stating unequivically that they are NOT disabled. Granted, this tends to come from people with Aspergers as opposed to those more profoundly impacted by Autism. It's an interesting notion though isn't it? They simply are what they are.
For some time now my son has referred to his autism more like a place that he's from or the different lifeform that he is. Since he turned 9 or so and began to be able to verbalize to us his awareness of being on the autism spectrum, he would say things like "I am autism". I think his phrasing is more about a lack of vocabulary, but I can't help but see the beauty in it. For him there was never an event that triggered the onset of autism. He simply has been the way he is his entire life. It is him. Why not describe it as the place where you're from?
What does that make me? How about you?
I wonder if there are any sociology studies of the "autism community" and how it defines people on the spectrum. How does being on the spectrum bring people together? Can you really be from Autism? Anyone know of anything?
On the other side of the coin, though, I don't want autism to define him. To limit him. Or to be the excuse we go to when things are difficult. We push for equal opportunity for him and our other 2 kids. My wife and I are very open about discussing autism and it's impacts on our lives. Yet I hope that this openness doesn't backfire on him some day. I must admit that there are days when I fear that our openness is a self-imposed scarlet letter of some sort.
Even with those concerns I still fall back on the basics of being yourself. Just like Oscar Wilde said “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”