You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'normal'.
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 entries.

Of the World

  • Posted on March 5, 2014 at 10:00 AM

When I took on this whole parenting thing, I didn’t want or expect children with autism. I knew very little about autism, disabilities, or my own neurological differences. I wasn’t an advocate. I didn’t even know that parents needed advocacy skills.

That being said, I didn’t want or expect “normal” children either. Both my husband and I are different from the norm. Part of that difference—part of what we’ve come to understand about ourselves through our efforts to raise our children—is that we’re neurologically divergent. Mostly, though, we’re just weird. And we actually like it that way!

“In the world, but not of the world” is a common Christian phrase used to describe the relationship Christians are expected to seek with their surroundings. The general idea is that Christians are called to live in and act upon the world—love your neighbor, do good unto them that hate you, etc.—but are not supposed to be of the world—seduced into worldly beliefs, worshipping idols, etc. It’s a delicate balance between maintaining our beliefs and acting on them.

When I think of “normal,” I think of people who are “of the world.” I think of how “business ethics” is accepted as an oxymoron. I think of how bullies are accepted in schools as part of the way things are and always will be. I think of how people think it’s unrealistic to expect us to end things like rape, molestation, and domestic abuse. I think of how it’s “normal” to cheat on your taxes or steal from your employers. It’s “normal” to use or manipulate others. These behaviors are perfectly normal, even expected, and yet there’s nothing admirable or praiseworthy about them. They are “of the world.”

Now, I’m not saying everyone who is consistent with the neurological or physical human norm do these things, nor am I claiming that people who are not consistent with the neurological or physical human norm don’t do these things. I’m just saying that when I hear “normal,” I think of the many unethical and irresponsible “normal” behaviors that permeate my society and the world.

I never wanted my kids to be normal!

I suppose that made it easier to accept my children as they are for who they are. Then again, I accept my step-son, who is neurologically normal, as he is for who is. I try to teach all of my children how to live good, responsible, ethical lives. I don’t want any of them to settle for being “of the world.” I don’t want any of my children to be normal.

The New Normal Begins Now

  • Posted on September 4, 2013 at 10:00 AM

School has officially started for all of my family that is in school. I estimate that it will take between two weeks to three months (depending on the individual) for us to adjust. But we’ve done it before, many times, so I’m confident that we will adjust. We’ll find our new normal. We’ll make it good!

Embracing the Chaos of Autism: A Signature Speech (in progress)

  • Posted on October 8, 2012 at 8:00 AM

As part of my author-career development process, I’m supposed to create a signature speech based on my book. Embracing the Chaos of Autism is the working title of this speech. The premise of the speech is to use stories to teach others the importance of individual-focused treatments, with empowerment and development (versus cure and normalcy) as the goals of those treatments.

Basically, as a society we’ve focused a lot on principles—principles of parenting, principles of education, principles of self-development—which suggest that a universal approach or structure works (or should work) for everyone. In raising my three children with autism, I have had to set aside most of these principles. Instead, I focus on my child, his needs, and the strategies and techniques that work for him—each of them require a different, individual focus.

My goal is not to get my child to a point where those “universal” principles can become successful. Instead, my goal is to empower my child—as he is, for who is he—to reach his unique, individual potential.

This individual focus seems so simple, and yet the difference is remarkable. There’s this belief that seems to hang around parent circles that the goal is to make a disabled child “indistinguishable” from his or her peers. Everybody should just be like everybody else, right? Yet, parents of typical children are often driven to make their child “distinguished.”

So, when does it end? Why are we so driven to make our children something they’re not, instead of helping them grow into the exceptional, wonderful, awesome people that they are?

We don’t have to accept the norms of parenting. We don’t have to strive to be normal. Autism isn’t normal, but there is a “normal” for each individual with autism. Maximizing that “normal” for the best benefit of the child makes for stronger children, stronger families, and stronger communities.