151. Do It For Your Son

“Do It For Your Son”

It finally happened.

Not that it hasn’t happened before, and from our “own” community. But today it was different in a feeling-punched kind of way.

We were at a doctor’s office with A. He was grinning and yukking up the attention from both of us parents while we sat in the waiting room. At random intervals, he used his speech app to tell us whatever popped up in his mind. It was honestly a perfect moment; we had peace and mutual delight flowing between all of us. He occasionally chose one of our laps and plonked down, and his ludicrously fat, glossy curls spilled into our personal space. Such moments are a gift in the early teen years of severe autism, so when I tell you we were fully immersed in our joy, I mean it. We wanted for nothing.

In my experience, it is invariably (and cruelly) when we forget to factor in other people that they impose on us. Perhaps they don’t understand how we could find him perfect. Or they think our love is not enough.

I am tired of finding excuses for the public. Sometimes you are too much to take. I do not want to know what you think of my family. I do not want to keep titrating my shock and rage by telling myself—I must understand where they are coming from (how many times have I been told I must understand that people’s educational and cultural backgrounds influence how they view autism); I must give people a way to show they care; the way I interact with my son is ‘different’ so I must be patient with randos.

Nope. You stop.

I know you want to know what happened. Well, a fellow mom beckoned me into the sick kid waiting area. She said “I’m sorry,” which is usually the prelude to something people aren’t sorry for. Then she asked me “Are you a Christian?” I said no. She gathered her courage and said that if my son could hear the word of god, he would speak. Jesus can do that. Apparently I must do this for him. If my resistance to Truth is so strong, I should drop him off at a church and leave him there for the duration of a service, but I must not allow my own objections to deny him this miracle.

What do you do when faced with someone burning with zeal? Me personally, I say thank you and I back away, and that’s what I did today. You know why? Because I have been raised to be nice even to people who don’t deserve it. I hate that learned instinct, but it’s there.

I am angry, though. People have no right to barrel into our consciousness this way, and yet they do.

Instead of doing difficult inner work, they tout miracles. Instead of acceptance, they impose their officious pity. Instead of science, they choose a stew of unknowns. And instead of zipping up their mouths, they tell it all to me.

If you really believe there is no harm in presenting these ideas to people, think again. It is violent and harmful to proselytize to people who have not asked for your input. It is especially so when it’s about a special needs child.

It may not be popular to say, but it’s my blog so I am going to say it regardless: clergy really need to think hard about what they say to their congregations. If it is all drama and poetic language, and not rooted in practicality and fact, then people who aren’t much into data and evidence are going to stumble out into the world with some pretty vivid notions of our various purposes in life. And they are going to spill all that onto the rest of us.

For those of us from non-proselytizing backgrounds, this stuff is not benign. I do not want to indulge any of it in the hopes that you will eventually go away. I should not have to navigate your exhausting force field every time I bring my child out in public.

And I am definitely not going to have a faith-based conversation about my beloved son so that you can walk away feeling like you worked some good in the world.

If you actually want to do good, accept that many of us do not want to talk about vaccines, gluten, or god with you. We have our own views. We are not empty vessels waiting to be filled by your zealotry.

We do not believe that love for our son must make us weak enough to disbelieve educated professionals and throw ourselves into the arms of credulity.

And we certainly do not want to place your feels above our learned experience and cultivated instincts.

Stop forcing us to expend energy to repel your disrespect. If you cannot fathom why we wouldn’t try your miracles, you can live on without answers.

If you think I am overreacting, well, that is why this sort of violence continues, and why people like us have to keep smiling into the faces of bullies.

Radha.

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