I think “recovery” can be a tricky word to use when talking about autism. For one thing, there are many people with autism who do not feel they need to be changed, fixed or recovered. They are simply happy with the way they are. I completely understand that. Secondly, there are those who believe that recovery just isn’t possible and that autism is purely a genetic disorder. I don’t completely understand this view since my experience with my son has proven otherwise (as it has for many other families I have spoken with). Thirdly, what is recovery really? Do we want a child that is indistinguishable from others simply so they can be deemed “normal”? What would the human population be like if we didn’t all have our different ways of thinking and being? I, for one, would never want my son to lose the many unique and interesting ways he has of looking at life. I find him to be quirky, fun, and so damn smart. Nothing to “recover” there.
For me, recovery is simply a chance for my child to heal from the physical damage to his immune system and to be comfortable in his own body. To be able to talk and connect with family, friends and peers in a way that brings happiness and fulfillment to his life. To be able to learn without major struggle and to enjoy the learning process. I want my child to have all the tools available to him so that he can decide how he wants to use them. I want my child to feel at peace.
As my son progresses in his “autism recovery“, I often hear from others who feel he simply outgrew his autism, that he was never really that severe to begin with, that starting school is what actually sparked his language and he just needed time to catch up. Of course, unless you are a parent of a child on the spectrum, it’s hard to see all the hard work your child (and you as the parent) have had to put in to get to this place. I am glad others can see the progress, of course! It puts a smile on my face. But yes, it’s also been hard work! I say this not for pity or accolades, but because I would love for people to stop seeing autism as so black and white. Yes, kids can and do get better, and yes, it is a process. While there is still a ways to go in helping heal my son’s immune system and helping him catch up verbally and socially, I am so happy to be where we are today. For all the moms still in the trenches, still redirecting behaviors, and dealing with tantrums, trying to get your child to eat differently and poop regularly and feel ok in their own bodies, just keep on going! It is so worth it! And please please keep the faith! And have some wine if you need it!
I think I’ve said enough for now :) But before I go, here’s a great article from the TACA website to read if you get a chance: