I apologize for all of those who I may offend with this post with my defense of the differently abled, but I feel like this needs to be said as I live with “disabilities” myself.
I was interviewed on “No Small Victories,” a radio show discussing autism. I never thought that in such a place, I would be offended and insulted by parents who believed their children having autism was something to grieve over. Some people state that autistics make bad parents and many autistics have had their children taken away. In some countries, autistics are not allowed to serve as therapists. But you know, I would never grieve if my child had autism. There are parents who would do anything to have a baby who was just born alive, maybe they lost a few to miscarriages or stillbirths. There are other parents whose babies might never leave the hospital or have to undergo massive surgeries while they were still newborns. Now I would grieve if my child was dying, not because of something else that meant they were going to live.
I would be thankful that they are living in this day and age instead of in Germany when people who were different were killed. The mass murder which became the Holocaust did not start with the Jews. It started with the disabled. Regardless of the fact that I myself am a gay transsexual mixed race Jew by Choice, all of which would have sent me to the gas chambers, the thing that would have killed me first was having a disability. I have epilepsy, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder (formerly the type called Aspergers which was named for Hans Asperger who did the research).
Parents grieve because an autistic child means they might have to change their parenting style and that one-size-fits-all which they are told will work will not. Babies, kids, and even clients are not one-size-fits all. When you have a baby, you can’t sit there and put any expectations on them just like you can’t do that for adults. You cannot make an assumption that what worked for an older child will work for the second child. Why? Because they are all individuals. Each individual has their own way. Every time you have a baby, you become a parent all over again. A good parent, a good teacher, and a good therapist all knows this. If you aren’t willing to change your style to those who need you or if you are experiencing grief over your child/client instead of celebrating them and their difference, you have no business being in any of those roles and you are what is wrong with the world.
I tailor everything I do to whoever is in front of me.
I am a different parent to each one of the four kids I have. I have to be. They are different people.
When I was teaching, I was a different teacher and tutor to each student. That is one reason I don’t really like teaching anymore and especially not normal classes. It’s draining to be 30 people all at once.
I am a different therapist to all of my clients. I don’t put parameters or expectations on any of them. I learned how to do this because I am autistic and know what it is like to think differently. I focused my attention and my studies on how to understand the human condition and used my autistic tendencies to make the world a better place.
A good parent, a good teacher, and a good therapist will not force the kid/client to them, they will try to mold themselves to the student/child/client and focus on finding the person’s own inner strengths and bring out those inner strengths. My favourite therapist, Paul, did therapy that way and I realize how unusual that really is. I never met a therapist who did that. I never fought with him like I have with all the others. I never respected or bonded with another therapist like that in my life. He saw my abilities not my disabilities. In fact, he claimed he never saw the autistic tendencies. I think he lied to me on that one, but maybe he didn’t. Who knows, he was a wizard, but his attitude is one reason why his modality is what is mostly reflected in my practice. He did in therapy what I was doing to kids and students. I never fought with my kids because I knew what they could do. I saw the possibilities with my students. I never fight with my clients, I always make them feel better and give them hope and understanding and no restrictions. Everything is possibilities. Those very possibilities that you should be giving your child, student, or client no matter what their ability or disability.
When you come into my office, I have no real expectations. My only expectation and assumption is that you are most likely a human being and that you have a problem (aka you are looking for a solution that you haven’t found yet) and that you think I might be able to assist. Everything I do for you is going to be tailored to you. That is what all parents and all teachers and all therapists should be doing. Otherwise, you are a disgrace.
If you are a parent who is sad that your child is autistic instead of celebrating that child, you are not welcome in this practice. Your child is welcome to come where s/he will be loved and celebrated, but I never want to see you or hear from you. Just like I do not welcome Nazis or other anti-Semites or homophobes in this practice, I sure as heck will not welcome people who insult their disabled children.
Melvin S. Marsh is a certified hypnotherapist in Augusta, Georgia who has an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis and thus feels very loyal to his fellow autistics. He can be reached at http://www.afterhourshypnotherapy.com or afterhourshypnotherapy @ gmail.com .