When I was a child, I played a game with my friends called "would you rather." Basically, it was a question game used to illicit conversation on long car rides or late nights in college drinking with my buddies. Ususally, we would pose two undesirable options, then talk about why we would chose one over the other... for instance, "would you rather go deaf or go blind?" When I was working full time in the field, I remember having similar conversations with my co-workers. Only this time, it involved things like "would you rather have a caseload full of kids on the Autism spectrum, or a caseload full of down syndrome kiddos?
Now that my own child is on the Autism Spectrum, I have thought back to such conversations, and have even heard my own husband make comments like "at least we never had any fertility problems," or "at least she is happy and mild mannered unlike kids who are always misbehaving." It's an interesting thing to think about, really. Everyone has "stuff" in their lives that didn't work out the way they had planned. But what if an alternative was given? Would they "rather" have had a different circumstance, even if it was another crappy deal? Would I have "rather" had a child with another disability... and why?? Last weekend we were a a birthday party at chuck-e-cheese. I'm not a big fan of birthday parties these days... like stabs to the heart sometimes... but that's for another blog. Anyway, at this party there was a little girl there who was a month older than Avery. She had down syndrome, but was able to point at Kaylee and say "baby," clap and dance with the other kids during the show, etc etc. All things that Avery cannot yet do. I left there with tears in my eyes, wanting so much for Avery to be able to enjoy the party as much as the other kids by participating/ joining in on the fun. My husband, forever the optimist, quickly chimed in that "Avery had a great time! She climbed and rode rides and watched all the lights and action. It was fun for her!" There are always two ways to think about things. Kudos to my hubby for recognizing the good in what I was seeing as a crummy situation. Besides, she'll get there... I know she will. I heard a neat quote the other day. "All kids are gifted. Some just open their packages sooner than others!" I love this.
With Autism, children have a really hard time relating to others. This impairs social reciprocity and communication. Sometimes, it can make a parent feel very alone... even if they spend all of their time with their child. I have blogged about this before... about the wonderous "moments" where I really connect with Avery. Those moments fill my soul and envelop me with happiness. I think I am able to cherish and appreciate them so much BECAUSE of her disability. I am also able to celebrate the smallest of feats, and really notice every detail of how my child's mind and body works... or doesn't work. Avery is actually pretty smart sometimes. She is a puzzle wizard, can match and point out tons of pictures and sort all kids of things when she's in the mood to cooperate. It's fascinating.
So what's the answer. What would I "rather" have? The answer is that it's a stupid question. We get what we get and we have the choice to make the most of it or wallow in our self pity. OF COURSE I would rather have my house burn down and lose all my worldly possessions... but that's not an option. EVERYBODY has some shit in their lives they don't like, it is how we handle it that shapes our character and determines the end of the story. We don't know how our book ends yet. In fact, we are just in the prelude. I am sure with each chapter their will be heartache and bliss, and I know that I am privileged and blessed to get to be a part of the story.