Sunday, June 15, 2008

An Autism Dad's Father's Day Vow

On Father's Day I am thankful for my good fortune in having two terrific sons. One regularly returns A+ grades, learns in, and speaks, both French and English. My younger son, Conor, follows an individual education program designed for him, learns by ABA instruction, and does not have a full command or understanding of English or any other language. Both make me very happy. For both I am thankful today.

This blog is about autism because Conor has Autistic Disorder, assessed with profound developmental delays. I find great joy in Conor but not in his autism. The pictures accompanying this comment reflect some of the affection that Conor has for me, as his Dad, and some of the joy he brings to life.

Unlike some fathers with "autism" blogs I do not believe that the joy Conor brings arises from his autism. To me his affectionate, playful, personality is not a result of his autism. It is simply the essence of Conor. Because I love my son I refuse to follow the lead of those internet blogging fathers at the misnamed Autism Hub who try to suppress candid descriptions of autism. I believe I owe it to my son, who can not tell the world his story, to tell it for him and to tell it honestly; untainted by the ideology of the Neurodiversity movement that glorifies autism.

Because I love my son I fight to help him overcome the severely limiting deficits that his Autistic Disorder brings. To that end I have fought for Applied Behavior Analysis, ABA, interventions for him and other autistic children because ABA enjoys an incredible basis of evidence in support of its effectiveness. No other intervention enjoys anywhere near that level of support. And I will never fall victim to the "sweet surrender" mindset of glorifying autism as anything other than what it is - a serious neurological disorder.

There is currently no cure for autism. If a cure arises, substantiated by solid evidence and research, and recommended for Conor by a knowledgeable specialist I would not hesitate to seek that cure for Conor so that he might live life to its fullest as independently as possible. And I don't care one iota whether the word "cure" offends some stranger sitting at a keyboard somewhere in the world who is offended by the word cure, or the idea of a cure. The stranger can appear in flashy magazines or on network television posing as a human rights advocate but he is not acting in my son's best interests. I am Conor's father and it is me that fights for him and his interests, not the posing stranger.

On this Father's Day I repeat publicly the vow that I make to myself privately every day to help Conor live and enjoy life to the fullest extent possible.


Wade Rankin said...

Wonderful post, Harold!! Conor is extremely lucky, but then again, it seems that you realize that you also are lucky.

Happy Father's Day.

Unknown said...

Thank you Wade. I a very fortunate.

KeithABA said...

Great Post!

I think you really hit the nail on the head with the "sweet surrender," post and your points in this post.

I see two types of individual's who are the proponents of the sweet surrender mentality. One type are those who are adult's diagnosed with some form Autism, but yet are capable of participating in blogs and expressing quite complicated thoughts. They are able to articulate and form in depth arguments.

Then there are those who have met these types of individual's and read their works, but do not have any form of Autism or a developmental dissability. Many have never seen a child with autism engage in self injurious or harmful behaviors. Many don't consider the challenges of the huge communicative deficits that some of these children experience. Most attribute the problem behaviors as occurring because of the attempts to treat these behaviors.

Both groups appear to love to critisize though, and that is evident from the blogs. I don't have to mention names or blogs, you already know which one's I am speaking of.

Sorry for the long winded reply, but I really enjoy reading your blog, and haven't posted in the past. Sorry for the attacks you have to withstand both here and on other blogs, but it seems like they don't both you too much. I wish you the best for you and your family.

Unknown said...

Thanks Keith

It would be nice if the people who claim to represent "Autism" Rights would spend more time trying to help persons with severe challenges and less time attacking parents and other caregivers who actually care for and try to help autistic children and adults. But that is a lot to hope for.