Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Question

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.


Tiff :o) said...

I can't imagine what feelings you struggle with in regards to Avi's autism but I can imagine it isn't easy seeing your child struggle with something that neither he nor you has any conrol over.

You seem to have accepted it as part of him though and love him just as much as you would if it didn't have it so you are doing a wonderful job.

I can't imagine anyone saying that they wouldn't take any illness from their child if they ha a choice. That is such a foriegn concept to me. But maybe it's just their way of coping with it?

Stella Andes said...

I have to agree with you that I would be wishing I could take away anything like that, but it doesn't mean that you are any less spiritual or any less of a father. The fact that you don't want him to suffer in any way, as I am sure you wouldn't want Itai to suffer, shows me that you are merely a caring father who loves his children.

I was thinking also about Heavenly Father, for whom it must have been difficult to see Christ suffer, and also to see us suffer physical, mental, cognitive, and emotional disorders. Yet he allowed it because he knew it needed to be that way. I wonder sometimes if the parents of children with autism aren't being tested themselves. You are passing with flying colors from what I can tell.

Heather and Thomas Mann said...

I can't understand that thinking either. I would want to take away anything that could bring harm (physical or emotional)from my child too. It seems natural. You are a wonderful dad. It is clear how much you love and cherish your boys. You are rearing 2 adorable, smart, funny, handsome boys with so much to offer. They are lucky to have such wonderful and loving parents. Never doubt yourself! Love you!

Terry Family said...

This is a question that I have struggled with myself. Honestly, as I read your post a few months ago about the things you loved about Autism, it just made my heart ache. I remember we were having a particularly HARD time with Boston, and there was NOTHING that I liked about Autism at that moment. It made me feel like a horrible parent -- there was something about my son, beyond both of our control, which I did not like -- which I detested. I would change things in a heartbeat if I had the chance. But reading your blog is always so refreshing, albeit guilt-inducing :). Your perspective, attitude, and patience seems to be so much better than mine at times, and you're such a good dad.

Now that things have improved REMARKABLY with Boston, thanks to his schooling and his ADHD medication, I fortunately have been able to see things in a new light, and see the positive things that have been so hard for me to see when things have felt so difficult. I still can't say that I love Autism or that I wouldn't change Boss if I could, but thanks, in part, to reading your blog I am able to enjoy things a lot more. Besides, just as you said, there has been One far greater than I who has struggled with wondering if there was an easier way also.

Us said...

In the defense of those who said they wouldn't change anything even if they could they do have some compelling arguments. As a spiritual argument many say that autism is simply part of God's plan for their child. They say to change this would frustrate that plan. But, the reason I hear most frequently is one of acceptance. They say autism is part of their child, or part of their personality. There is a feeling that wanted to remove or change the autism they would be rejecting their child as they are. I totally understand where they are coming from, but like I said, I'm just not there.

Terrys, please don't feel guilty while reading this! This isn't meant to make anyone feel guilty. I really look up to you guys, so please don't feel like I don't!

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