Recently, a national organization who professes advocacy for people with disabilities proudly announced a new tagline….. “Until there is a cure for autism, there is Easter Seals.” Being the parent of a teenager with autism spectrum disorder and a volunteer for the organization, it made me examine others beliefs that my son was somehow damaged goods who needed to be cured. This was not my belief.
Having Timmy brought much joy into our family. As time went on, it was obvious that Timmy marched to a different drummer. His milestones became more difficult to attain, and his achievements (walking, talking) were worthy of great celebration. My son Timmy is a wonderful, funny, handsome, engaging, quirky, dreamy, loving child. He is sometimes a total pain in the neck.
He lives in a world where people make fun of him, denigrate him, point at him, seem uncomfortable around him, and don’t want him for a friend. I believe he deserves better. I believe he is a joy. I believe he will be a taxpaying and productive member of society.
I believe he deserves a community that doesn’t see him as a square kid who needs to fit in a round hole. I believe he deserves compassion, empathy, and tolerance. I believe he deserves teachers who think outside the box and who listen to him and build on his abilities. I believe his differences don’t make him less valuable. I believe kids like Timmy teach us many valuable lessons about the fragility of the mind, and that we have much to learn by trying to see things from their perspective. I believe I wouldn’t trade him for another kid any day. I believe he does not need to be cured, only to be understood. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.