No Need to Cope.
If you are a parent with a neurodiverse child, it is likely that you remember the day of their diagnosis like it was yesterday. The day they were born was probably one of the greatest days of your life, but the day you found out about their special needs was likely the scariest, most impactful, and confusing days of both your life, and theirs. Katie Cloyd is a writer, wife, and mother who lives just outside of Nashville, TN. Her main topics of interest are motherhood, marriage, and living your best life in a fat body. She wrote the article, "Walker is Autistic, and We Do Not Want (or Need) Your Pity," to shed some light on the feelings and emotions she had when her son was diagnosed with autism and hopefully, provide a sense of peace and comfort to other parents who may be having similar experiences. From the moment her son was born, she noticed a difference in him. When he was eighteen months old, she thought he might be autistic. And when her son was three years old, and she finally got some experts to evaluate him, he was officially diagnosed. It was in that moment that Katie claims she experienced "emotional upheaval." She wasn't mourning and she wasn't trying to imagine what his future would be like; she was "overwhelmed by her own ignorance." She was struck with the realization that she was now unaware of her child's needs and she felt inadequate to be the kind of mom he deserved. She felt that her child would need/want organic foods, a dedicated room in the house filled to the brim with Montessori works, perfectly executed schedules, and a spotless home, and that's not who she was, but that was all just her fear talking. She said, "I can't offer him the best of everything. All I could offer him is a lot of love and a promise to try really hard to learn all I can to get him what he needs." Her process of learning is one that is filled with resources that she was unaware of before stepping into this role. Because she is cautious of where she goes looking for information on autism and who she listens to, Katie has actually discovered that her most influential resource is autistic adults. In her article, Katie quotes Amy Schumer and her response to a fan on Instagram who asked how Amy would "cope" if her son were to have autism, like her husband Chris Fischer, does. To that fan she said, "How I cope? I don't see being on the spectrum as a negative thing. My husband is my favorite person I've ever met. He's kind, hilarious, interesting and talented and I admire him. Am I supposed to hope my son isn't like that?" Often times, people in our world have a hard time accepting that differences are wonderful and beautiful; being unique and having autism is what makes some people truly great. Katie reveals that from her own experience, when she would tell people that her son was autistic, she was often met with pity. People would say things like, "Oh I'm so sorry. He seems so normal to me!" Honestly though, what even is normal? There is no representation in this world of what "normal" is and what it's supposed to look like. We are all different and we all have our quirks, and by that standard, autism is normal. On the subject of pity and condolences, Katie says, "I have the privilege of raising the funniest, most adorable, brilliant, quirky boy alive. He has the right to live in a home where he is celebrated for everything he is, and where he is not forced to do hard things every single moment of his life to try to blend in with a society designed for neurotypical people." What she will, however, take pity for is the fact that she is raising boys and, they are messy and wild and energetic; she claims that they need a dose of "healthy fear." At first, she thought she would have to provide her son with so many things, but she has since realized that all he really needs is time, space, and permission to do things his own way. That also means that every child is different and no two children are going to present their autism in the same way, however, as a parent, it is your job to learn as much (accurate) information as you can and just accept what you cannot change to help you become the best parent you can be for whatever it is that your child needs. As Kate says, "For me, there was nothing to try to cope with; there was only the privilege of raising a child who has as much to teach me as I could ever hope to teach him."