Nicole Jankowski needed to see a psychiatrist — for her sake as well as her son’s:
When my autistic son, Dominic, was four years old he ate nearly every piece of a foam puzzle while I was in the shower. He seemed fine enough when I came out, looked at me with his round, cornflower eyes blinking. He wasn’t the least bit distressed. But I was pretty flipping upset.
“Why did you do that?” I asked him, with the fear in my voice palpable.
He looked unconcerned, but turned his little head up to me.
“What do you think you are, a goat?” I asked him, with the frustration in my voice palpable.
He looked at me still, no expression.
Here’s what he was probably thinking: Her face is much prettier from far away.
Here’s what he said: Nothing.
Then again, he did have autism and couldn’t speak.
The clinical psychiatrist saw how distressed Dominic’s mom was. There were days when she was so desperate and afraid that she was the one doing the flapping and the jumping and the rocking. The psychiatrist kept it simple and brief, yet what he said was profoundly liberating:
“Your son has classic autism. ” the Child Psychiatrist said. “There’s no cure. Anyone who tells you they ‘cured’ their child of autism didn’t have a child with autism. It’s that plain.”
Jankowski was relieved, not saddened, to realize that Dominic, despite having autism, was a really happy kid:
What it really meant most of all is that I stopped trying to banish the autism from Dominic’s life (or my life) and just started letting my son live with it.
It was a part of him, just like his blue eyes and love of eating all things foam.
And that’s the story of how, instead of shadowboxing the unseen enemy, I invited autism in for tea, but only if he agreed to be on his best behavior.
Jankowski is weary of the divisiveness within the Autism community, and all the arguing back and forth she sees as terribly distracting to what she sees as a common goal:
We are, collectively, the moms of the flappers, the jumpers, the wanderers, the pickers, the groaners, the moaners, the kids that makes people stare and laugh and feel sorry for us.
Divisiveness over vaccines and diets and acceptance—those are just ways to get sidetracked, red herrings meant to divide us. Let’s just agree to disagree sometimes.
And. Let’s not get distracted from the real issue, the one that we all seem to universally agree on–the one that unites even the fiercest enemies in our divided autistic community.
Let’s all agree to focus our energy, together, in a much more useful direction, one that every mother of an autistic child seems to embrace wholeheartedly——-
Hating Jenny McCarthy.
Doesn’t that feel better?