Thursday, July 19, 2007
Autism Is Not the Essence of Conor
Conor is my son. He is a great and wonderful joy in my life. Each and every day he brings a smile to my face. Conor is also autistic, his diagnosis is Autism Disorder, assessed with profound developmental delays. His autism is severe. For those who would ban the use of terms such as severe vs mild or high functioning vs low functioning to describe autism I have listened to you and I can only say that it is silly to deny that there are profound differences, real life differences, with serious implications for the future well being of those, such as my son who are low functioning , and the high functioning autistic persons who write essays, host blog sites, give testimony before political bodies and intervene in appellate court proceedings. To suggest otherwise is to enter the realm of absurdity. But Conor is notjust his autism. He is a person with an affectionate and fun personality. Conor's limitations arise from his autism deficits but his personality, the essence of who he is, does not arise from his autism.
I make every effort I can to improve Conor's life today and for the future. That is why he receives the ABA intervention that has proven so helpful in permitting him to communicate, understand more speech, read, write and do some simple math. He receives ABA because his parents love him dearly and, as with any other child, we want to give him the greatest chance we can to live a full and happy life for as long as he can.
There are voices, strident voices at times, who condemn parents for seeking to treat or cure our own children of their autism. Such voices, again, inhabit the realm of absurdity. It is absurd to suggest that a child should not be cured of life restricting conditions which seriously impair their ability to function and which, in many cases, condemn the child to a life of institutional care. It is absurd to condemn the parents who love their children enough to seek to cure or treat their children, to provide them with a better life. As a parent who would welcome a cure for my son's autism I am secure in the belief after 11 years of raising, caring for and living with Conor, that the real essence of Conor, his fun, laughing, affectionate personality, would remain after treatment. I have faith in my knowledge of who my son is, based on our years together. Curing my son of autism would do just that, it would remove the deficits which restrict and impair his ability to live a fuller life. It would not remove the real essence of Conor, an essence which is more than his autism and which I hope is evident in the pictures which accompany this comment.