Deep inside we all want to be special. Human beings have the urge to think they are extraordinary. It is a thought the ego needs to keep one’s mind satisfied with the lives one leads. Whether it is to cope with competition or just to find some meaning in their lives, people often convince themselves they are good, they are worthy; they are special. But often it is not enough to feel special; others must think one of as exceptional. In order to do so, there must be an agreement on what a human being needs to be considered more than just average. When asked what makes them feel this way, that is what most people answer:
- A successful career;
One (or more) of those assets listed above would define someone position in life.
When people somehow don’t manage to possess one of more of the qualities above mentioned, they may be shaken off by this unpleasant confrontation with reality. The idea of being just plain may not be a fine one to many. Still that is what most living souls are: average. Even when enjoying those predicates, most human beings are nothing else than mediocre. All around the globe, we all have the same (prevailing) expectation and dream: to be happy and to feel good. But how can we reach those states without having the goods? One of the answers could be: by projecting those on our kids. Our children are the future; our future. We may not have done great in life, but we all have our children to do it for us. They are our second chance, our plan B: “The career I didn’t take”… “The fortune I didn’t make”…”The University I didn’t go to because I chose to marry instead”…”The life I didn’t live”. No, we don’t say it out loud. We only feel it in our heart. A child means hope; hope for the future; hope for our future.
When a child is born, immediately (new) dreams are made. We just can’t help it; it is the nature of the (mediocre) human being. We not only want the best for them, but we feel they are special. They are ours. We are special, so is our child. It is not crazy or arrogant to think like that. Parents with a positive attitude and expectations towards their children do influence on their self-esteem. However, how does this practice work when the child is real special; unique; different; autistic? What to do with those projected dreams?…What does a child with autism say about you?…
A shattered dream. Fear. Panic. Chaos. The end of expectations as we had it until then. You wished for a special child, not a “special child”. You deserved a plain special child; one intelligent as you, talented as you who would grow up to be a successful man or woman, just (not) like you. And now?… How to reorganize the chaos going on your mind? How to accept that life has cheated you, giving you a child you don’t know, you don’t understand and have difficulties welcoming? How do you go on, being the good parent you were sure you could be before the diagnose? How do you face your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors (competition on specialness) and come out, telling them your child isn’t perfect or not the good kind of special? The answer is: you just do it. You do what it takes, and you make the best of it. Resilience.
Autism has the power to transform average people into special beings. The ones who, sooner or later, will find out that finding happiness has never been about intelligence, beauty, success or whatever general-accepted-by-mediocrity-goods stated. They will jump out of the box, free their minds, shake values and judgment off, and find a way to be okay with it. After all, they realize that it has always been about the assets few people (the real extraordinary) know: true love; unconditional love the child and not least, for themselves. A love without too many expectations – except to give the best that resides in oneself – can set him free from the general assumption of what should make one special.
“My son will never read and write”… ” My daughter will probably never get married”… My child won’t go to college”… Those are few thoughts parents with special needs children (secretly) state. Regardless these statements will appear to be true in the future, the attitude would better be: “So what??…” Does it matter? Does it make him or her lesser a person? …Does it make you lesser a person? Mediocrity would think, yes; Special people would say, hell no!
A child with autism doesn’t say anything about you. Like a very smart child doesn’t mean his or her parents are smart per se, or a gorgeous looking girl has a gorgeous looking mother. As a gifted artist may not have equally talented parents – or even not at all. Our children are a small part of us, but they are not us. Those are mind tricks we should not fall in. If having a child with autism would say anything about you, is that you’ve been presented with a different, truly unique, beautiful mind. You’ve been blessed, actually. You’ve been given the opportunity to learn the most valuable lessons in life – the greatest gift of all.
You, the parent of an autistic child are special because:
- You show resilience every single day;
- Challenges don’t kill you; they make you stronger;
- You find beauty where average see ugliness.
One or a combination of assets isn’t what makes someone remarkable, but the way one chooses to lead a fulfilling life in spite of not having any assets.
To raise a child we think is special is good. It means: “I did something good.” To have a child with special needs means: “I did something great.”