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There is a lot of debate about an autism “cure” vs. “acceptance.” I’m not firmly in one camp or the other, although I do think with acceptance comes a desire to alleviate Natalie from some of the things she struggles with daily. I wish she didn’t struggle with language, or come home crying each week because although we practiced over and over, she flunked another spelling test.
Today, however, I was reminded that success sometimes comes in moments, and we have to embrace them. Natalie is a Special Olympics athlete, and as a fundraiser, they collect can tabs. Although she struggles with social skills, and her speech is hard to understand, we’ve always tried to find activities that expose her to neuro-typical kids as well as those activities that are geared toward her needs and abilities. One of those activities is Girl Scouts. Nats asked her troop to collect can tabs. She also asked our church — it was her idea. I don’t know at her age, if I would have been confident enough to make the ask. Tonight she came home with a ton of tabs (and some money people donated). We rarely see a smile that’s genuine — it’s often forced for the sake of a picture (and Nats will be VERY clear about her dislike of pictures). At any rate, she asked me to take her picture – she was super proud of what she’s accomplished, and so am I.
Like many special needs parents, I spend a lot of time managing — paperwork, services, therapies, and so on. When you coordinate with so many professionals, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of all that Nats can’t do – and, if I’m being honest, those thoughts can take me to a dark place.
Today I was reminded of what Nats CAN do, and that her heart is a better measure of her abilities than any standardized test.