Accept him as he is

I see a counsellor every few weeks to talk about things coming out of Bright Eyes' autistic spectrum disorder. It helps a lot but something she said this week was very challenging.

I was talking about how much time and energy I put into his problem. And she said "What exactly is his problem? I don't mean what's his diagnosis, but what is the problem with the autism? How do you see it?"

It was an easy answer for me. The problem I see with Bright Eyes having ASD is that he will never be truly accepted amongst his peers or have equal relationships with them. Someone will always have to regulate for him and he will be seen as a burden, a weight and someone whom other people will tolerate at best, or persecute at worst.

My counsellor thought that was a terrible way to think about someone with a disability. She asked me if I knew anyone who had a disability who was happy, and I said that wasn't the point really. The point was, do I know anyone with a disability who is truly part of 'the group'? And my answer is no.

We got to talking about the movie Forrest Gump and why Jenny didn't stay with Forrest through her adult years if he loved her and she loved him. The counsellor said it was because of Jenny's own problems and abusive background. I argued that no, it was mostly because Jenny could not have an equal relationship with Forrest. He couldn't relate to her on her terms. She always had to regulate for him.

I added that I was never happy with the ending of the film. Forrest ends up looking after his son when Jenny dies. He is pleased that his son is 'smart' and doesn't have the same learning disabilities that he does. It all looks rosy, but not to me. I can only think that that child will grow up to be embarrassed about his father, and ultimately to avoid him as he relates to his peer group in teen and adult years. Obviously most children have embarrassment and peer separation issues with their parents, but this would be a very extreme case. I just can't see Forrest's son having anything much to do with him at all as he gets into adult life.

The counsellor was very surprised indeed. In fact, I don't think I've ever told anyone this (now of course I've told everyone...).

As we went further in the discussion, she said that if I am able to accept Bright Eyes as he is, without needing him to be a 'normal' child, he ultimately will 'need' less from me and we will have a better relationship.

I think this is probably very true. And yet I don't know how to accept him as he is without also wanting (needing) him to change and recover and improve! Do I really know how to accept anyone as they are? Do I accept my other children as they are? What does that really mean anyway?

I'd be grateful for your comments.