My mom wrote a book about my recovery from autism. How many kids have a mother who writes a book about every detail in their childhood? This is when I stand up raise my hand and uncomfortably whisper “I do.” Her book is called I Know You’re In There – Winning our War Against Autism.
My mom asked me to read the book before it was published to see if I was okay with the things she wrote about me. That was hard to do. I learned about events I didn’t remember and things that were just embarrassing. I know I shouldn’t be concerned about the weird things I did back then, because I was ill. I would rather continue on with my life. I want to forget what’s past. Still, I can’t do that. It is too important to let others to know those debilitating effects autism can have on people and their families is treatable.
It is because of my family that I’m okay and have a pretty typical life. When I look at my life now, it is hard to think of it being any other way. I work as an engineer at a major aerospace company. My favorite things to do are go surfing with friends and walk dogs at the animal shelter. I also like to find new recipes to serve when my friends come to my apartment to have dinner and discuss politics. Recently, I vacationed in Bali with one of my best friends from college. I plan to go surfing in Panama in a few months with another friend. I totally enjoy life!
Some people think we should just accept autism. And that if a child is treated, it changes who that kid is. I’m am still the same person I was, only now I’m happy and can enjoy life. It is hard to understand that children are not receiving proper medical treatment because some people think we should only celebrate autism. When doctors believe the medical issues associated with autism are just part of a “developmental disorder” children are not treated for the same medical conditions as other kids. Is that really okay?
It is hard for anyone to imagine what their life would look like under different circumstances, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t involve surfing in Bali or Panama. My life could have been very different if my family had accepted how my life was and if my parents had listened to the “experts” when I was first diagnosed.
It is because my family never gave up on me, that I live the life I do. When the doctors said there is no recovery from autism, there was no cure and there was no hope, my family still didn’t give up. Because like the title of the book, they knew I was in there.
Can autism be cured? I can only speak for me, and I’m not cured. What bothers me most about once being on the spectrum is that I’m still dependent on medications to make my immune system work properly. If I forget to take the meds, I start to feel weird. I need these medications to feel “normal.” That’s why I say I’m recovered and not cured. It’s kind of like the diabetic who needs insulin to be okay.
While I want to provide hope and encouragement to others, I still have mixed feelings about telling our story. I don’t want anyone to realize I am the same person who was once in the third percentile for speech when I entered Kindergarten and had to be taught how to smile.
I’m uncomfortable sharing that I used to make strange noises, bit my sister, and played with faucets instead of toys. And who needs to know that I used to carry around a portable radio all day long and plugged it into every outlet in our house over and over again?
It is awkward that my dad was forced to stop at Jerry’s hardware store, before we went anywhere without my mom. That’s where my friends the extension cords and plugs lived. Stopping there first, prevented the ginormous meltdowns I’m told I used to have when he just wanted a guy’s night out.
Anyone who has read my mom’s book knows she is a little stubborn and can be quite obsessive when on one of her missions. This is not a criticism, just a fact. I’m not bothered by this personality trait. It was because of her tenacity and perseverance that I got better. But, I worry that she is putting our family out there in her attempt to help others. Mostly, I don’t want anyone to question the things my mom wrote in her book. Some will say I never really had autism or that I was only mildly affected. I wish that were true.
Still as much as I care about my mom and think what she is trying to accomplish is important, I do tire of hearing her talk nonstop about autism to anyone who will listen. My family taught me, when I still had autism, I shouldn’t talk about the same subject over and over again. Maybe I need to get a little ABA behavioral therapy for her.
Seriously, I understand why my mother does this. Marcia just wants the same life I now have for every individual who struggles with autism. She wants every family in the A-club to know autism is treatable and recovery is possible. What she is doing is important, in addition to being somewhat annoying. Our story had a happy ending, but how many parents are still told there is no hope for their children’s futures. And how many kids will not get better as a result?
Ryan’s mother, Marcia Hinds wrote I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE-Winning Our War Against Autism. There is more information to help families on Marcia’s website is www.autism-and-treatment.com . You can preview her book on Amazon or her website.