The post below is by autism mom and author Allison Hill. Allison recently wrote Jacob's Special Power, a children's book to teach acceptance and help encourage parents to keep on fighting for your children and to keep on believing in your children.
I guess I would be considered a new mom in the special needs world. My son, Jacob, is 4 and was diagnosed with severe autism at 15 months. At that age he was completely unengaged, no babbling, no playing in the mirror, and he was delayed in many areas. I quickly began researching all that I could to help him. I hoped that his diagnosis was wrong, or that he would outgrow it, but that didn’t happen.
I found the Autism Speaks website where I soon began to read about everything out there: research, Applied Behavior Analysis, special tools and kits to help my son, and advocacy. There began my journey. I started reading other parent’s blogs and I soon realized that there were two very loud opinions about autism and research and trying to find a cure.
One opinion that I kept reading about was that autism just really stinks. It is hard, discouraging, there is no cause or cure, and we are all sort of doomed until we find answers. People stare at kids with autism and don’t understand them and there isn’t really an upside to be found yet. It is all just a very sad situation.
The other was that autism is beautiful, people are great and perfect just the way they are and there doesn’t need to be a cure or funding or help because that means we don’t love them as they are. Just accept them the way they are and leave them alone. This is a hard side to take for those with autistic kids that harm themselves and can’t communicate basic needs.
But I didn’t fit into either of these groups and I really don’t think most of us do.
My child has brought an awareness into our lives that is invaluable. I can see his special talents and unique traits and I love and admire that about him. I feel that autism has given our entire family this heightened appreciation for each and every milestone that our children reach. I also feel like autism is hard and discouraging sometimes. I don’t want him to have to fight so hard to learn independence and self-help skills. I don’t want other children to have to experience the hardships that he has. I want to communicate with him and I want him to have an easier life.
I DO believe my son is beautiful just the way he is. I love him with my whole heart and will continue to love and support him with or without change. But I am a mom who will fight for him and his future. I will fight for answers, I will fight for acceptance and education, and I will do my best to help support research for a cure. I don’t only want this for him, but for all children with autism because the rate of autism is growing rapidly and it is so important to discover the cause and cure.
My family’s hope and happiness in autism comes through our faith and trusting that every child has a special purpose and has value. We take each day and every opportunity to be thankful for the situations that bring us laughter, the unique traits that Jacob has, and his joy in the little things. He is a blessing. We have to make a conscious decision to focus in on children’s strengths and talents and we can do that all while fighting for answers and for research and for a cure. It doesn’t have to be one way or the other. Realize the potential that each child has and help them to reach it, but don’t give up hope that autism can be cured. Don’t give up on trying to educate people about the magnificent value that autistic individuals have and the joy they can bring into your life. Don’t stop teaching others to learn to accept those who are different.
Jacob has brought so much joy into my life that I was encouraged to do something that I never thought I would, something that could be my own way of fighting for him.
My middle son, Tyler, pretends to live in superhero world. Every day it’s a new cape or mask or superpower in our house. Every item in our home becomes a weapon to battle bad guys.
Well, one day I was reading another superhero story to him and I thought of a cool way to teach him about special needs and acceptance. He does not have autism and is often asking questions about Jacob. I wanted to write a superhero book that would entertain children with or without special needs, all while teaching them the importance of accepting other’s differences and realizing the important purpose of each and every person. I wanted it to be a tool for parents, as well as teachers, to discuss such topics as special needs and acceptance.
I understood that it was a long shot, but I sent out my book to several publishers and to my surprise I received a contract to get it published. I was also very excited and honored that author and autism activist, Dr. Temple Grandin, and actor, Ed Asner, both endorsed the book showing their support in this journey to promote acceptance.
I have decided to donate 100% of my proceeds to Autism Speaks and The Dan Marino Foundation as my way of fighting for autism.
I want to help encourage parents to keep on fighting for your children and to keep on believing in your children. If you see their value and believe in them, they will too. Let’s work together to show the world that our children have many wonderful traits and lets fight for answers that can help them.
To order Jacob's Special Power, please click here. Barnes and Noble, Nook, Amazon and other major bookstores will have the book available online within a few weeks. 100% of my proceeds will go to help families with autism. You can visit my blog to hear more about our family’s journey through autism here.