I don’t know if this comes across in my blog or not, but I am a very angry person, and so I have decided to make this a recurring theme on my blog. Thus, I introduce a new series, entitled “Things That Make Me Angry”. This first edition features something that is near and dear to my heart: parents who refuse to admit that their child has special needs.
I feel I’m thoroughly qualified to be angry about this sort of thing, seeing as how I have a child with special needs myself. For those who may not already know, my son has autism, and I have never once tried to deny it. I’m not thrilled about it. It doesn’t make me happy. But there’s certainly nothing to be gained from refusing to admit the truth.
I don’t know why somebody with a special needs child would refuse to admit it. The best theory I’ve come up with is that these people are afraid that if they admit that their child has special needs, then that means that they’ve failed as a parent. I can almost sympathize with this way of thinking. Almost. But as a parent, you have to put your child’s needs ahead of your own, and if you’re refusing to admit that there’s something different about your child because you think it means that you did something wrong, then you’re putting your ego ahead of your child. And that’s just wrong.
I will admit that it is difficult to have a child with special needs. If given the choice between a child with autism and one without, I would probably chose the one without. (Although I can’t say that with 100 percent certainty, as I have never had a child without autism. My daughter doesn’t count, as she is not old enough yet to determine whether she has autism or not.) When it was first suggested to my wife and I that our son might have autism, I wasn’t happy about it. I didn’t jump for joy and shout it from the rooftops. I was upset. I was devastated. But I didn’t cover my ears and sing “LA LA LA LA LA” as loud as I could. I didn’t say to the doctor, “There’s no way that MY son could have autism.” I certainly hoped that he didn’t have it. But he does, and I’ve accepted that as a part of my life, and of his.
Denying the possibility that my son could have autism would have done nothing but hurt him. If I had believed that he didn’t have it, I would not have taken him to the clinic where he was diagnosed, and he would not have gotten the therapy and education that has helped him learn how to communicate better and how to interact with other people. Granted, there is no way of knowing exactly how much the therapy has helped him. But if it has helped him at all, then it was worth it.
I guess I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t want your child to get help. Put your ego aside and do what’s best for your kid. Having a special needs child does not make you a bad parent. Nobody knows what causes autism. (As an aside, here’s a quick preview for a future installment of “Things That Make Me Angry”: vaccines do not cause autism.) If your child has autism, maybe something you did caused it. But even if that’s the case, it’s still not your fault. If no one knows what causes autism, how are you supposed to avoid the thing that causes it?
This kind of feeds into something else that makes me angry, which is the fact that there are so many bad parents out there. I’m starting to wonder if maybe there should be mandatory parent training classes in this country. Of course, that would open a whole other can of worms, but I think that it’s a good idea in principle. Being a parent is hard, and most people go into parenting without any real idea of how to do it. Heck, I have two great parents, and even I feel like I’m learning as I go most of the time. How in the world are people who had bad parents supposed to know how to raise their own children?
That’s a discussion for another time, though. Goin back to the topic at hand, I’m not just talking about kids with autism. There’s one child in particular that pops into my mind, who I will call X. X got into all kinds of trouble at school, and had serious anger management problems. Now, X’s parents had divorced when X was very young, and X was burdened by feelings of guilt. X’s teachers had suggested counseling, but X’s father insisted that there was nothing wrong. Needless to say, this attitude meant that X did not get any help, and continued to travel down the same dark road.
I’ve also encountered parents who refuse to have their child tested to see if they qualify for special education. I just don’t understand what can be gained from such an attitude. Yeah, maybe you get to avoid the stigma of having a child who’s in special ed. But at the same time, you’re denying your child access to a service that could help them get farther in life than they would without it. But hey, at least you don’t have to worry about the neighbors gossiping about your retarded kid! Because getting bad grades and dropping out of school is so much more respectable. Right.
Like so many other problems in the world, this one really just boils down to selfishness. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that selfishness really is the cornerstone of sin. After all, what is sin? Rebellion against God. And why do we rebel against God? Because we’re more concerned about what we want than what God wants, i.e. we’re selfish. So my advice to all stupid parents out there (and everyone else, in fact) is this: stop being selfish and give your life to God. There. Problem solved.