Ignorance

ig·no·rance
ˈiɡnərəns/
noun
 lack of knowledge or information.
  1. “he acted in ignorance of basic procedures”
    synonyms: incomprehension of, unawareness of, unconsciousness of, unfamiliarity with,inexperience with, lack of knowledge about, lack of information about

This week I was in a meeting about my son with Asperger’s and a high-ranking school administrator, who loves my child and wants to do what he can, asked, “Is this something he will grow out of?”

Because of my life, I have an immense amount of patience.  I answered him, letting him know that autism is not a blip that people catch and my son will not, unfortunately, GROW OUT OF IT.  The only word that came to my mind was, “ignorance.”  Autism, especially higher functioning autism, is one of those medical conditions that people refuse to try to understand.  Other invisible medical conditions are tough too, but if they are physical, people tend to get that.  I have family members with cancer, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and more.  Once those individuals let people know why they have trouble doing things, people understand almost immediately.  But mental conditions are something many expect more out of.  Honestly, it’s something I struggle with too.  As his mom, I want to understand him and I do better and better, but I am still frustrated so often that he just can’t, “get over it,” “just do what he is supposed to,” “stop the noises,” “calm down,” etc and etc and etc.

The news article all over Facebook right now is about a man who was shot by police when he was trying to help an individual with autism.  Ignorance.  Society is so unaware when it comes to the struggles of autism, especially when people, “look normal,” but are not behaving normally.  I don’t know what was said or what actions were done that led to shots being fired, but obviously time was not taken to know what the situation was.  I can imagine that there was a great deal of stress, yelling and screaming perhaps, increased tension…you know, the things that happen in my house nearly every day.  But these were police officers.  Their job was to assess the situation and make sure everyone was safe.  Police officers are supposed to be calm, able to make informed decisions, and act when needed.  This was not a situation that needed shots fired.  The man shot was a rare individual who understands and helps people with autism.  This is not the first tragedy that involved misunderstanding of autism and will not be the last.  We as a society need to become educated, compassionate, and tolerant.

The follow-up to the question at my meeting was, “I can imagine him being my doctor someday.”

No.  He will not be a doctor.  He will do great things.  He will succeed and I will do everything I can to make that happen by supporting him in all the ways I can.  He may invent some advanced medical computing software or build machines that doctors use in their field, but he will not grow out of anything and have any type of bedside manner.  It’s the truth and we are working with that.  I am not one of the parents that feels blessed by autism.  I will never say that I am happy we have to deal with that in our lives.  I would erase it if I could.  If he could grow out of it, I would be counting down the days.  If there was a magic pill, I would give it to him.  But I do believe that all humans are unique creations and that God has a plan for all of us, including my son.

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One comment

  1. Zach says:

    We all have ignorance of what we don’t live or are exposed to regularly. You know I’m high functioning autistic, you also know that it has caused me many problems as well. However God has a way of using everything for good. I’ve seen it before, and I’ve seen it again.

    You are right he won’t grow out of it… and he is lucky to have parents that helped him get the help early on. There are days I wish I wasn’t autistic and there were days I wish my mind wasn’t so binary in the way I see things. Your son is a bright kid, with a very supportive family two things that really are going to help him succeed in life.

    I agree with you on police officers not being adequately trained on how to handle issues on the Autism Spectrum and have experienced smaller issues to that myself. The problem is much bigger than that however.. cuts in the public mental health system and school systems have often forced law enforcement into matters that aren’t criminal when people slip through the cracks of these systems. Cutbacks in funding has forced these cracks to be much bigger than ever before. If people could get the help they needed, homes could get the staffing they needed many times these issues would not involve law enforcement.

    Praying for you guys

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