Would you if you could?

Posted by Rebecca Black on Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Recently, my Aspie son and I watched all the X-Men movies in order. We frequently do this--take a series of movies, watch them in order, then critique the nuances. As an aspiring filmmaker, my son likes to look for hidden themes and "memes" the director may have included.

In case you don't know the story of X-Men, it involves mutated humans who, through their mutation, possess supernatural abilities. The X-men are leery of "normal" humans, don't understand their motivations, but find themselves in a position of saving the world for all from the bad/evil/misguided folks who seek world domination. X-Men is particular in its portrayal of "normal" humanity's reaction to the X-Men -- Fear, Mistrust, and even Hatred.

The parallels to our autistic children are unmistakable.

As an Aspie, my child has abilities I clearly do not, especially considering that I have ADHD. His powers of concentration and attention to detail are phenomenal. He notices (and expects everyone else to notice as well!) details that most of us miss entirely. 
Like an X-Man, my son can be misunderstood. Like an X-Man, he really is altruistic, although he may not always seem warm and fuzzy in his approach.

The last movie we watched was a story of a possible antidote to the mutation that produced the X-Men. Some X-Men wanted to take the antidote and live a "normal" life. Some X-Men were FORCED to take the antidote (this is the hinge of the drama in the plot.) It raised the question -- "If there were a cure for autism, would you want it?"

This question was also raised this past week at a Diocesan Resource Day in a workshop I offered. I'll write more about the workshop, but I wanted to share my answer: "First, my son needs to know all the things he values in himself, so he can truly know his own worth. Then he needs to know all that others value in him, so he can understand his place in the world. Then he will have to decide for himself."

Would he be the same child without autism? No. Would his life be easier without autism? Probably. The question is really, would his life be better without autism?

I want to share with you a poem he wrote in 2nd grade. It speaks to me of the wonder of a child whose brain operates so very differently than mine (Praise God!)


As soon as I start to watch TV,
Many whatifs whisper to me:
Whatif the Earth freezes?
Whatif the Earth sneezes?
Whatif a bunny bites me?
Whatif I can’t drink my tea?
Whatif they run out of Lunch?
Whatif I don’t have anything to munch?
Whatif my desk comes alive?
Whatif the door counts to five?
Whatif there weren’t any video games?
Whatif a tree says his name is James?

As soon as I start to watch TV,
All these Whatifs whisper to me.

Your answer might be completely different. Please send your thoughts and ideas to ASpecialGrace@gmail.com or use the form on the home page of the website. --Rev. Rebecca Black