A HOUSE MAY NOT BE A HOME (Even if it has Cable TV)
In the last six months or so, I have heard from so many adults on the spectrum that live full and meaningful lives. So I realize that the interventions my wife and I elect to use with our son are not necessary for all autistic children.
I hear time and again how “all” children eventually improve and learn to communicate and interact with the world around them. I want to believe that so much, but there often seems to be a question about how far any particular autistic child can go without interventions designed to counteract a probable trigger of the autism.
The story from Elmont focused on one family of a 24-year old man who moved into the home with great excitement. His mother noted that the residence “looks like a real home.” She didn’t say it was a real home: only that it looked like one. The young man’s father made a comment that made me wonder how he views the limitations on his son’s life: “He’s got cable, everything he needs.”
This is going to sound harsher than I really want it to, but I want my son to grow up with more to look forward to than something that looks like a real home with cable television. I want him to build his own life and to have his own home, not just be able to live in a house.
Am I making a value judgment? Absolutely! And I would never presume to make such decisions for that young man in New York and his family. This home will probably serve his needs quite well, and it may even be the best solution for his family. It will provide a modicum of independence. For my son, though, I want nothing less than full independence. I want him to have the freedom to tell the entire world, including me, to shove it.
The decisions my wife and I make today on our son’s behalf may well determine whether he achieves that full independence. In making those decisions, we have to carefully consider both physical risks, and the risk that we may be altering his human uniqueness in some way. It is an awesome responsibility that is not to be taken lightly. But making those kinds of decisions is what parents do.