As you may know, one of the major points of my book Aspertools is that kids with Asperger’s and autism have different brains, which process information differently. Another is that, the parent of a child with a different brain must love that child unconditionally.
Today I’m saluting Jacqueline Laurita, one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. When she read a comment from a woman on the Facebook wall of the Autism Behavioral Services page that asked why people give birth to autistic kids, Jacqueline, the mother of a young boy, Nicholas, diagnosed with autism, wrote an amazing and beautiful response. I’ve picked out a few of the numbered points in Jacqueline’s rejoinder to include here in an edited down fashion.
As a very proud Mother of a beautiful, intelligent, loving child with Autism, I want to provide you with an answer to your question that you so boldly and publicly asked, “Why do people give birth to Autistic kids? Waste of societies resources.”
Let me educate you. . .there is NO medical detection or prenatal test to tell you that your child will be born with Autism. Even if I had known of my son’s Autism prior to his birth, I would have STILL chosen to give him Life.
Autism signs and symptoms are usually discovered within the first few years of life. I am a Mother that waited 6 ½ years and went through 5 miscarriages to finally give birth to, what I consider, my miracle child. I couldn’t wait to hold him in my arms, look into his eyes, and love him forever. The love for my child is immeasurable and I will continue to love him unconditionally regardless of any challenges he may have. He is a joy to our entire family and has taught us more in life than we ever imagined we would be teaching him. Thank GOD he exists! He is worth every resource we can get that will help bring out the best individual that he can be. He is worth every skill we can teach him that may make his life a little easier in the future.
Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability that affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills. They also could exhibit some self-stimulatory and repetitive behaviors. People with Autism Spectrum Disorders process and handle information in their brain differently than other people. DIFFERENTLY, NOT LESS than other people!
Although there is no known cure for Autism, as of yet, it is treatable, and with the right early detection, intervention and treatment services, the signs and symptoms related to Autism can be greatly improved and in some cases completely overcome.
EVERY child, with or without Autism, or some other challenge in life, MATTERS! Every human being has something to contribute to this world if people would pay attention to the lessons to be learned from each individual.
I hope you take some time to understand how your insensitive words may have affected families, such as my own, who choose to see the beauty of children with Autism. We love them unconditionally and endlessly. As parents we will continue to fight hard to give our children whatever we can to give them the skills they need to help make their lives easier for their future. We are parents who will continue to believe that these bright souls not only have the power to continue to learn, but also have plenty to teach the world. Raising a child on the Autism spectrum is a joy and challenge every single day, and we appreciate any information, resources and support we can get from others. I hope in the future, you choose empathy over your lack of compassion.
Beautifully put, Jacqueline. Well, as I say in Aspertools, mothers such as Jacqueline Laurita deserve a special place in heaven. This should inspire all of us to continue to get the word out to society in general during this autism awareness month.
This blog was originally published here. Reprinted with permission of the author.
Different Brains® Inc. founder Harold “Hackie” Reitman, M.D. is an author, filmmaker, retired orthopedic surgeon, former professional heavyweight boxer, the past chairman and president (and current board member) of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County, and a neurodiversity advocate. However, it was his role as a father that led to the creation of the DifferentBrains.org website.
Hackie’s daughter Rebecca grew up with epilepsy, 23 vascular brains tumors, and underwent 2 brain surgeries before the age of 5. Her struggles and recovery put him on the road to, through 26 professional heavyweight boxing matches, raising money for children’s charities (to which he donated every fight purse).
Rebecca eventually went on to graduate from Georgia Tech with a degree in Discrete Mathematics, and Dr. Reitman wrote and produced a film based on her experiences there (The Square Root of 2, starring Darby Stanchfield of ABC’s Scandal). After graduation, Rebecca received a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. Hackie, shocked at his own ignorance of the topic despite being an M.D., embarked on years of research that culminated with his book Aspertools: The Practical Guide for Understanding and Embracing Asperger’s, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Neurodiversity (released by HCI books, publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series).
This experience revealed to Hackie the interconnectedness of the conditions that fall under the neurodiversity umbrella, while alerting him to the in-fighting and fractured relations that often plague the organizations tasked with serving the community. Convinced that overcoming these schisms could help all of society, Hackie forged the Different Brains philosophy of inclusive advocacy: “Supporting Neurodiversity – From Autism to Alzheimer’s and All Brains In Between”.
In the company’s initial years of operation, Hackie self-financed all of the content on DifferentBrains.org, all of which offered free to view to the public. Currently he is the host of our weekly interview show Exploring Different Brains, writes blogs for the site, and tours the country speaking at conferences, conventions and private functions, all with the goal of improving the lives of neurodiverse individuals and their families, and maximizing the potential of those with different brains. Separate from Different Brains, Hackie is the founder and CEO of PCE Media, a media production company focusing on reality based content. He recently co-executive produced the documentary “Foreman”, the definitive feature documentary on legendary boxer and pitchman George Foreman.