Here we go again…Word Girl.
Today’s word [well, actually phrase]: “He’ll grow out of it.”
What?!?!?! Do you know anything about Autism? This is not a cold. This is not the flu. This is not a broken arm. It is not a ‘phase.’
Although, when I first disclosed to Tucker that he had Autism he seemed to think the same thing.
Question 1, “Well. When did I catch it?”
Funny now…but a real question. “It’s not something you catch, Tucker. God just made you different. He makes all of us different.”
Question 2, “Okay. Do I need to take medicine to make it go away?”
Funny now…but then, a gut-wrenching moment. “No, it’s yours forever. It won’t go away. But, we’re going to figure it out together. I will be right beside you, every step of the way – sometimes it’s really going to be hard. But I’ll always be there, trust me?”
“Love you, mom.”
And here we are…..seven years later. Still facing it together.
This is who he is. He is not going to grow out of anything.
That being said…that comment often leads to…‘Tucker is getting so much better.’
Oh goodness, there are so, so, so many issues with this phrase.
First, it implies that there was something wrong in the first place. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with my child. Is he different? Yes. Is he worse? No. Is he better? No. He is who he is.
In fact, there is some debate among those of us in the community of Autism who don’t believe in ‘cures.’ To cure something means that something was very wrong in the first place. We should (and will) cure cancer. We should (and have) cured Ebola.
Are there days that I wish he didn’t have autism in his repertoire? Of course. It is what it is – someday he’ll do amazing things because his brain works ‘different.’ I’m sure of it – there are rumblings of famous ‘autistics’ – although never ‘identified’ [because of history] have you ever heard of Albert Einstein, Amadeus Mozart, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson, or Michaelangeo? Many scholars agree that these folks had behaviors now identified on the spectrum.
Second, Tucker is not getting better, he is not ‘growing out of it.’ Tucker has worked his tail off to develop coping skills that make him seem ‘better.’ Tucker has had an amazing support team made up of teachers, speech therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, special education specialists, autism specialists. These people have helped him cope, they have not helped to make him ‘better.’
I appreciate the thoughts and the encouragement of how much ‘better’ he is getting. I also understand that these words come from a loving place. A place where others may want to recognize your work as a parent, but the words still hurt.
Why? Well because, this is his reality.
EVERY DAMN DAY.
EVERY. DAMN. DAY. He gets up. EVERY DAMN DAY. His brain isn’t wired right. EVERY DAMN DAY. He has moments that he absolutely struggles to function. EVERY DAMN DAY.
Stating ‘He’ll grow out of it’ shows that you don’t understand that this is his reality. That it is his choice to behave this way. Most of his difficulty is not a choice, it is his life.
So, the next time these words are making their way out…try this instead,
‘Hey. How are things going at school? Any new challenges or accomplishments that you want to talk to me about?”
Then, be prepared. You may be sorry you asked.