Saturday, February 12, 2011

Will Jadyne Ever Live a Normal Life?

I'm asked this question often. People ask detailed questions, too.

  • "Will she ever drive a car?"
  • "Will she ever go to college?"
  • "Will she ever get married? Have a family?"
The list of these futuristic questions is endless. Truthfully, I just don't know. Only Jadyne will be able to show us her full potential. My job as her parent is not trying to predict her potential but to ensure no other forces limit her potential, such as under-concerned doctors, ineffective educational systems, and even the uneducated general public to whom she is exposed at Wal-Mart, the grocery store, the park, and anywhere outside our home.

What I can say for certain is that having autism is not a death sentence for a "normal" life. I have even received the very insensitive question, "What is she really good at? You know, like Rainman. Autistic people are idiot savants, right?" If you use this term, I beg you please eliminate it from your vocabulary. If Rainman is all that comes to mind when you hear autism, then I beg you to subscribe to my blog to find the truth behind autism.

All of this comes about after a recent IEP review, progress report, and meeting. Jadyne's goals were always set low. During the initial IEP meetings years ago, I stated I felt her goals were too low, but I was told not to fuss, that it's best to set her goals low so that she can exceed them. I found this acceptable, and we moved on. However, Jadyne's IEP review states, "Jadyne is cooperative and pleasant and eager to learn." It further states, "Jadyne has minimally met her goals." I think this needs re-worded to be "The staff and curriculum presented have failed to meet Jadyne's low-balled goals due to an inability or unwillingness to learn the language of a cooperative and pleasant child who has shown great interest in learning our non-autistic ways." No, instead we blame the "cooperative, pleasant, and eager to learn" child implying she has failed.

My darling Jadyne, I hear you, even in the absence of your words, and I'm trying to enter your world to help you gain skills that will make this non-autistic world better accept you.......................Love, Mom

In conclusion, to give hope to those who want Jadyne to succeed in life, I'd like to highlight the success of a woman with autism, an autistic savant, Temple Grandin. Temple did attend college, and even earned a graduate education. Her career has included being a professor of animal behavior, designer of animal facilities worldwide, celebrated writer, researcher on autism, and inspirational public speaker. Her first publication in 1986 Emergence: Labled Autistic describes life for an autistic person inside our verbal and emotional world, and her second publication Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism, released in 1996, gives us an insider view on the thought processes of someone with autism. Reading her description of how her mind works, I saw many similarities to Jadyne's behaviors.

Finally, I urge you to view this video. It is the courageous attempt of one autistic person to translate their language for us to understand.


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