Hope: Kryptonite For Autism

Blogging is suppose to be more relaxed, so let me take advantage of this informality.  I am going to use an awkward literary analogy, because it is the only way I can describe how I feel.

I believe hope is kryptonite for autism.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

Helen Keller

Let me explain.  Almost everyday I read, see, or hear something with the potential to steal hope from children, adults, or families effected by autism.  I don’t think it is intentional (at least I ‘hope’ not), but it happens.

From the moment a parent is told their child has autism, they are faced with an overwhelming number of issues.  A very helpful blog post written by Doug Goldberg describes this experience as “The Stages of Grief in Learning your Child has Special Needs.”

While we manage these stages, it is difficult to have or hold on to hope, and yet hope is essential.  Regardless of what program of early intervention we embark on, or medical treatment we pursue, the road ahead will be difficult.  We won’t sustain the necessary effort without hope (at least not in healthy ways).  We need hope and can’t afford to have anyone take it away.

Beware how you take away hope from another human being.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

One of the most unfortunate things anyone can do is steal this hope. Unfortunately, it can often happen in the name of protecting us, and without the thief knowing what they have done.

I am aware of the masquerading experts, offering miracle cures.  They take money from trusting families, and leave them and their children worse than they found them.  We need to protect everyone from these dangerous people, but we need to do it without stealing hope.

Medical professionals and therapist should tell us the truth about our children, but once again, can’t this be done without stealing hope.

The doctor who confirmed our oldest son’s disability told me his diagnosis, but allowed me to have hope.  He said, “Russ, let me tell you something.  You don’t have a special needs baby, you have a baby who happens to have a special need.”   He told a new father the truth, without diminishing the moment.  He reminded me to celebrate the birth of my son, which ignited a vision in my heart for possibilities, rather than doomsday scenarios.

The hope given to my wife and I by this doctor, as well as countless friends and family, has provided us with the strength to overcome.  We have selected our doctors, therapist, and advisers with this quality in mind.   We want the truth, but we also want a path to travel, a journey to take, and a hope to pursue.  Everyone needs this.

Hope is kryptonite for autism.   Hope is kryptonite in the battle to overcome any and every special need.   It keeps us going when the future seems bleak, and medicine has no answer.  It lifts our spirits, so we can celebrate the smallest steps of progress, with the emotion of monumental victory.  Hope keeps us looking for answers, when all around list reasons to give up.  Hope is what drives the researchers at UC Davis Mind Institute, Autism Speaks, and countless community groups.  Each one of them keeps pursuing answers and raising money, because they believe tomorrow can be better than today.

When autism rears its ugly head to defeat us, we need our friends, family, and professionals to pull out the kryptonite of hope.