Flashblog entry, submitted by Jacqueline Benkert
Love, Not Fear
When my daughter was diagnosed with autism at age 2 ½, my head reeled. The term was mostly unfamiliar to me, and all I knew of autism was from what little was available at our local library – including a bleak novel written by the mother of an autistic girl three or four decades ago. It sounded ominous, though, and as I shared the diagnosis with friends and family in my life, I received messages of pity and condolence – as if I were saying a final ‘goodbye’ to the child I had expected.
The truth is, though, that we have no right to impose expectations on our children. Whether neurotypical or otherwise, each child is unique and has a right to that uniqueness. It took me time to realize this, and now, I’m looking for a balance between trying to get my beautiful daughter to “fit in” more with her neurotypical peers, and finding a way for this world to accept her for who she is.
Who is she? She’s an incredible 10-year old. She’s smart. She’s funny. She’s loving – oh, so loving. She has a variety of interests and can tell you more than you ever thought you wanted to know about insects, birds, reptiles, dinosaurs and dogs. She loves to be with people. She loves to be out in the world. She loves. She’s not afraid to show that she loves.
She is genuine. She is real. She may need help, but she is not broken. She is joyful. She is unique. She is beautiful.
I do not “grieve for what might have been”. I celebrate who she is.
She is love.