I have heard many parents of children with autism say, "I wouldn't take his autism away even if I could." I remember the first time I ever heard someone say it. I wonder if my eyes bugged out of my head. I was completely surprised. My silent response the first time I heard it was, "Why?!" To be honest, if there was a way to take it away I would have done it in a heartbeat. I have thought about this a lot in the two years since I first heard it. I've talked it over with different people and here I am, two years later, thinking the same thing. IF there was a way, I would take his autism away in a heartbeat.
You might wonder why I would think about this for so long. First off, just know that I'm just weird like that. Second, it really engendered questions of my abilities as a father. Was I a bad father who just couldn't accept his son for who he is? Am I just missing something that all these parents seem to grasp so easily? Trying to come up with an answer on my on just wasn't happening. I discussed it with other parents of children with autism and others and still I didn't understand it. Each of them explained their view very well, but I still didn't understand. After discussing it with a coworker who has a knack for putting things into perspective I still didn’t understand. He brought the matter to a spiritual matter. It brought me to one question, "What is wrong with me?"
So, I looked in the scriptures. I started with scriptures on healing (I figured they'd help prove me right), :) but still I was unsure. Then I came across a scripture that gave me a better understanding of their view. Alma and Amulek were forced to watch the burning martyrdom of the saints. Amulek wants to save them but Alma refuses saying the Lord would receive them in his glory. Ok, so maybe that's the answer. I talked this answer over, and it felt good, but still, IF there was a way I knew I would not hesitate.
I was left with one conclusion, I just don’t get it. I love Avi, I have even learned to love things about autism, but there is still so much that is difficult, overwhelming and heartbreaking. As a dad I find myself filled with a desire to protect my children from unhappiness, sickness, loneliness, rejection, scraped knees, sadness, bad hair days and fear. Even though I know it defeats the purpose of life I still would defend them from injustice, cruelty, wickedness and all of the rest of life's worst. Why wouldn’t I want to save Avi from this?
Just when I had given up on finding an answer, and on myself, I came across a well known scripture that seemed to answer it for me. As Elder Holland once said, “If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.” That was it. Even the Savior wondered if there was another way. In the moment of his ultimate sacrifice the Savior was still teaching. It is ok to wonder if “there isn’t an easier way” so long as we are willing to place our will second to His.
Maybe I wasn’t totally wrong. Maybe just half wrong. If there was another way, I would take it. It would be dishonest of me to say anything different. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach a place where I could say to myself that even if that way existed I wouldn’t take it. I hope to one day understand why this is the way the Lord elected, but until then I’m just trying to trust in “the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things.”
I love Avi. I love and trust God; I just don’t understand Him perfectly. For anyone reading this that truly wouldn't change the autism in a person they love, please don't be offended. I look up to you, I almost envy you. You have obviously reached a level of understanding that I have not. I have heard your feelings and understand you, but it just wasn't me, not yet at least.
If you’ve made it to the end of this lengthy post (it's two years in the making!), please feel free to enlighten me on anything I may have missed, or completely misunderstood.