I was over by Danielle’s today and read this post about her family’s experience with Cystic Fibrosis. It got me to thinking about being open to life in hard cases. Autism and epilepsy have genetic components. When Ryan was formerly diagnosed with autism I was six months pregnant with Erin. When the doctor finished explaining the diagnosis he pointed to my really large belly (I do not carry small) and said,
"Well, it’s probably too late to do anything about that now."
Needless to say I was grief sticken and horrified. It actually took me until we were back in the car to process what he meant. Then I was angry. Really, really angry. I never went back.
April is Autism Awareness Month and while I fully support all moral efforts to find an effective treatment or cure the idea that they could identify a gene or in some way detect the disorder in utero makes me nervous. How many of these beautiful, gifted children won’t be born if that happens? How many will needlessly be killed through fear, intimidation or selfishness?
Autism is often an ugly thing. The people affected are difficult to live with, unreasonable, not affectionate and immensely stubborn. They have odd quirks and wierd obsessions. They have an average life expectancy and therefore must somehow have provisions made. They are also uncommonly beautiful, gifted musically, (as in Ryan’s case) artistically and mechanically. They enhance their families and they make the world a better place. The large amount of autistic people currently part of our sociey will force us all to be more compassoinate and less judgemental. Is the child in the grocery store having a tantrum or experiencing pain due to his sensory problems? Is the man is church who won’t meet your eye rude or unable to do so because his brain is wired differently?
When we weed out the wildflowers in favor of the perfectly cultivated pure breeds we diminish the whole garden. When we stop having children because they may not be physically or emotionally perfect we diminish our families, our society and our souls. My other children have a living breathing means to heaven right here in their home. Understanding their brother, loving their brother and taking care of him have forced them to think differently about people and to experience the fruits of real compassion on a daily basis.