Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don't let your ailment define you

My son is low-functioning autistic. He's now 19 years-old. By the time he was 6, I realized that there was no cure for the condition and the medical community really didn't understand where it came from. I put the notion of a "cure" out of my head and accepted Max as Max. The most frustrating thing I had to deal with from that point forward was the school system insisting on more and more tests. For some reason, they needed a more refined label for him. I just wanted them to teach him as much as he was able to learn. They wanted to find a just the right pigeon-hole to put him in.

Giving your problem a name isn't a solution. Learning to survive and thrive in spite of it is. I've had a handful of diagnosis to explain my occasional vacations from reality. I've settled on bipolar because I no longer care what anyone calls it. I'm becoming more aware of it and learning to work-around it, regardless of what you call it. While I don't really care if others know about it, I don't need them to know, or understand or make accommodations. My condition may be described as "bipolar" but "I" am not "bipolar". My son is autistic. He is not autism.

No doubt, there are times when making others aware of your condition and the nature of it is helpful and advantageous. But, don't live there. You will never excel if you convince others (and yourself) that it's not possible. Trying to force people to accept you as their burden, rather than an asset is not progress. You can't be a champion and a victim. Pick one.

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