RECOGNITION OF DANGER
What was the young man doing by the window? Did he have any idea that there was any danger? That we have no way of getting the answers makes the questions all the more frightening. And now a family must deal with an inconceivable loss. I can’t begin to imagine their pain.
As parents, we struggle with what is the right thing to do for our children. My wife and I can “child proof” the house we live in to some extent, but can we “child proof” the world? And what happens when we’re not there to watch over our son?
Looking at the words I just typed, I have to admit that it all sounds terribly melodramatic. I can’t help thinking, however, that the melodrama has become quite real for the family of a 12 year-old boy in Canada. And I am so fearful because we seem to see these news items too often.
Thinking about all of this, I went back to re-read a couple of posts I wrote last October, trying to explain why some of us go to lengths others see as extreme. This is part of what I wrote back then:
Yes, I’m desperate. I’m desperate to help my son achieve a measure of independence. I’m desperate to prevent my son growing up to be nothing more than a victim. I’m desperate to see my son grow up with no barriers to hold him back. In other words, I’m a normal parent.
Of course, I meant “normal” in the sense of “ordinary” or “typical,” and not as a synonym for “neurotypical.” I think the basic yearning to keep one’s children safe is common to most parents, including parents who are, themselves, “on the spectrum.” If I was to write that same post today, I might drop the word “normal,” but I would otherwise say the same thing.
Zilari left an interesting comment to my last post, respectfully pointing out that danger avoidance can be taught without the need of a “cure.” In general, I can’t disagree. That kind of education is necessary for all children, particularly autistic children. The effectiveness of that training, however, is sure to vary from child to child, just as similar efforts with neurotypical children vary in result.
Moreover, I’m certainly not suggesting that danger avoidance is the only reason to seek a cure/remediation/abatement of symptoms/whatever term may seem appropriate. Intervention is a decision that can only be made for individual children by weighing a variety of considerations, including all known risks.
I pray that I’m not doing anything to change the person my son really is. That being said, I will gladly join in any effort to change the world to be a friendlier and safer place for all of its inhabitants. Considering, though, that mankind has tried to recreate Eden or create a utopia from the beginning, I don’t think it imprudent to do whatever I can to help my son reach a point at which the world is not a confusing and scary place ⎯ a point at which he recognizes the good and the bad, the beautiful and the dangerous, and all the nuances in the world around him.