Monday, April 25, 2011


"Never make a defense or an apology until you are accused."
~ King Charles I

I feel like I've entered a new stage in accepting/understanding Ben's Autism. Or maybe it's just because I am 40 and am stubborn. But I am becoming more and more unapologetic about it.

Now--lemme 'splain a little. When I say I am unapologetic, this does NOT mean I don't apologize to people when Ben, oh, I don't know, hits their kid with a limp T-Rex silly slap or screams "Oh, the CARNAGE!!" directly into their ear at 80 decibels. And it does NOT mean that I haven't taught Ben to say "I'm sorry" to people when he is rude or hurts them in some way (even if it is a bit rote at this point, like me telling my bartender that I like my martini DRY). You catch more flies with honey, The Golden Rule, yada yada yada.

This is not the type of apology I mean. That’s just manners. I am referring to definition #2:

apology (n.) -- a defense, excuse, or justification in speech or writing, as for a cause or doctrine.

I became quite familiar with this version of apologetic in college--since I was studying religion, and it seemed I was reading one apologetic treatise after another. It took me a while to realize each religious expert was not saying "I'm sorry" (although I still think a few of them should), but was actually being their religion's cheerleader in saying "This is why we're AWESOME!"

It is the nature of humans to be defensively apologetic--to defend oneself or one's cause, even if you are not being attacked. It can be witnessing at its best and worst.

For example:

"We've found that removing dyes and preservatives from his diet have greatly improved his behavior. That doesn't work for everyone, but it sure seems to help Ben."


"What? You let them eat THAT? WE only use (insert product here) because it is the best and here are 5 articles to prove my point, and have I mentioned my child is more awesome than yours? Mostly because he's dye-free, and because I'm his mother instead of you, tramp."

I hope you know me by now kind reader, that I *try* my best to lean toward the first example. Alcohol permitting.

And as much as parenting tends to lend itself to a certain apologetic stance, parenting a child with Autism does also--maybe a little more-so.

When Ben was younger, and soon after his diagnosis, I found myself "explaining" him all the time. "Oh, that's just this thing he does." Or "Oh, he won't eat that because of this", or "Yeah, I don't know why he does that, really. But here's information I just gleaned from the five millionth book on Autism I've read."

And in doing so, I was just putting him deeper and deeper into that box checked "different."

And I refuse to do that anymore.

So, here it is. This is my kid. He does stuff. I think he's awesome. That's the most apologetic I'm gonna get.

And I'm sorry if his screaming hurts your ears. We're working on that. I find earplugs help.

Or a stiff drink.

Or both.

And he IS more awesome than your kid. And it's not because he's's because he has a mommy who loves him so unconditionally that she no longer feels any need to apologize.