An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

When the Student Should Be the Teacher

Hidden post #3
Originally written: 10/5/2013

“He can be taught how to better socialize.”
“He will learn to wave and say hello when meeting people.”
“He will be able to fit in better.”
“We can medicate him to take care of his challenges and minimize his differences.”
“We can teach him social cues and train him in desired responses.”
“We can silence those stims.”
“We can train him to appear more normal.”

“We will make him more acceptable in society.”

When is enough, truly enough?  Where does one draw the line?  When does the endless strive to try and force everyone into a society approved “box” stop?  When does the important shift to valuing someone simply for who they are, even with their differences still attached, start?

I am all for helping my son reach his greatest potential and to become as independent as he can possibly become in this world, but when did that ever include the need to force him into being able to fit into a pre-conceived box of “societal norm”?  Why do so many feel the need to pressure me into believing that he has to become “normal” before he will ever be fully accepted or welcomed by anyone?  Why can’t he just simply be himself and his goals, education, and support be centered on helping him become the best he can be and to reach his God-given potential whatever (and however near or far from his current reality) that may be?

Why is simply being “David” not good enough?  Why does one have to fight so hard to protect an innocent child, who is still so passionate about life and innocently naïve of the “outside world”, from being assimilated into the next “John Smith” or “Jane Doe” of society??

Seriously.  When is enough, enough?  When will people start to cry out and stand up against this as a whole instead of just in small but brave batches here and there?  Why does general society get to have so much say and power over us?  Why do we sit there and let them continue in that “power” without putting up a fight?

My son is a beautiful, intelligent, creative, passionate, and unique individual.  He may stand out like a sore thumb a lot when we are out and about in public, but that doesn’t mean he is a bad kid.  He may flap or hum or screech from time to time when he gets really excited or when he’s suddenly frightened or is feeling anxious, but why is that something so horrible that he has to be cut off from society until it can be “successfully removed” from his behavior?

My son loves bright colors like pink, and purple, and yellow just as much as he loves “boy approved” colors like blue, black, and red.  Why is this a problem?  What’s the big deal?  When he is feeling overwhelmed and can’t get away, one of his learned coping skills has been to drop and play in the dirt at my feet, or to silently pull himself into his own little protected world until I am able to help him leave the area.  What is so wrong with that?  The way I see it, he has come a long way from the child who would just start lashing out and beating up both himself and those around him as a means to fight back against the overwhelming senses in his environment.

He tries hard every day to do well, grow more, listen better, adapt more… all simply so he can be more “welcomed” in the society around him, and yet society still shouts back, “Not good enough!”.  Why?  Why is he “not good enough”?  Because he doesn’t act like everyone else?  Because he stands out more than he blends in?

Is it because the sound of music still inspires him to want to dance?  Is it the fact that even when a bully tries to insult him and put him down, he is still more often than not able to offer back a genuine smile?  Is it because he isn’t bothered or deterred by wheel chairs, crutches, or physical differences when encountering a new person, but rather sees the potential friendship in that person instead?  How about the fact that he is still entranced by the simplistic beauty of a wild flower?   Or that the common sight of a butterfly fluttering nearby can still fill his heart with sheer delight and pure joy just as easily and as much as seeing presents under his tree on Christmas morning?  Maybe it’s the fact that when he sees the sunrise, he jumps around happily in excitement and anticipation of a new day instead of grumpily pulling the covers back up over his head?

The way I see it, I agree that society and David (and others like him) really don’t get along and there is definitely a lot that needs to be learned.  The part I disagree on though is who it is that needs to do the most learning.  Sure David has a lot to learn in general (what child doesn’t?), but when you truly stop to think about it, wouldn’t you agree that at least when it comes to matters of overall life, passion, and acceptance that others could learn a lot more from David than he could from them?

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3 Comments

  1. Christi Ritchie

    Yes, they certainly could learn so much from David! He is a beautiful person! ❤

  2. marciakayx

    This is a very good post. I don’t think it is fair or right to take their life from them. Thanks for this.

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