This bitch wasn’t able to post yesterday due to technical difficulties (translation – AT&T found it technically difficult to deliver my high speed internet service until I reached out and touched someone in customer service)…but that problem was easily cured by a healthy dose of bitchitude.
Last week a bitch participated in a panel on autism and blogging at the BlogHer convention in
. Many thanks to Squid of Squidalicious for inviting this bitch! New York
I truly enjoyed the panel and the questions from the audience. One question in particular really touched me – a woman who identified as a mother of a young person with autism asked me whether having a brother with autism influenced my decision whether or not to have children. At the time I answered as best I could…but I’m rarely asked that question and can’t remember ever being asked it by a parent.
I could tell that the mother was feeling somewhat guilty that her son was saying he didn’t want to have a child…and I wish I had thought to tell her that I have friends who said the same shit because they have a sibling who was a pain in the ass to parent for reasons unrelated to autism or any other ism other than normal bad ass child-based contrary behavior. I also know folks who are eager as hell to become parents who grew up with a sibling with autism…I’ve found that thoughts on parenting vary person to person and there are no absolutes, just as there is no guarantee that a sibling of someone with autism is going to have a kid with autism or that a person with no family history won’t have a kid with autism.
As a sister of an adult with autism I’ve certainly asked myself whether I could do what my parents did back I the day. Things were a lot different in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s…autism was practically unknown to most folks and programs were basically non-existent in our community. I grew up watching my mother advocate for funding, services, respite care and programs…I also watched her juggle complex therapies year after year. Because of the work of parent’s and advocates like my mother, finding resources and educational opportunities for folks with autism isn’t as hard as it used to be…we’ve got a long way to go, but we have come a long way already. I’ll admit that my image of parenting a child with autism is greatly influenced by the challenges that I witnessed growing up. That image is changing now that I’ve met parents like those who attended the panel and learned that parenting experiences and options are as diverse as the lives of people with autism.
Having said that, life is nothing if it isn’t complex. Ultimately my decision to not have children has everything to do with me, myself and I and little or nothing to do with growing up with an autistic brother.
However, growing up with an autistic sibling did make me confront the reality that there are no guarantees when it comes to babies…and it helped me realize that’s okay. I’ve always thought that one of the most amazing parts of being a parent…whether a body adopts or gives birth or fosters…is discovering who a child is and watching that individual’s ways, wants and needs revealed over time.
And I suspect that fantabulous sense of discovery doesn’t discriminate.
Anyhoo, many thanks to Ms. Squid and my fellow panelists...I had a blast!