Today I was in a meeting with other Literacy Facilitators (coaches) in my district. This school year, we begin each meeting with a quick write using a book, poem, or picture as a stimulus. Today we wrote about courage.

Being a parent takes courage. I don't care who you are, how perfect your kids are, you need courage to keep parenting (especially during the teen years!)

If your child is autistic, you have to have a different kind of courage. You have to be willing to push and push. To go against wanting to allow your child to just 'be himself' and instead push him to be what he cannot be alone. If your child is autistic, he will not be able to understand the world as you or I do. Your child will need you to help him interpret what he sees and hears.

I once read a book titled "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" written by Oliver Sacks. Sacks is a great doctor who probably understands neurological disorders better than most. In this book, one patient lost the ability to interpret what he saw, and instead had to 'recognize' people by their 'music' (voices). He actually tried to pick up his wife's head to put on his head thinking her head was his hat.

Our autistic children are like that man. They see the world so differently, and must learn to interpret body language, voice, and other cues in an almost rote fashion. Strict rules, practice in social situations, and lots of positive interactions with others - this is what we owe our children who have autism.

It takes courage to be a parent of a child with autism. But the child with autism has to have the most courage of all. Children with autism have to step out into a world that doesn't make sense to them, and find the 'work around' that connects them to the rest of us.


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