Eyes of the Heart: The Relationship Between the Church and Characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome

Hello again, readers,

You may have noticed that my recent posts have a lot to do with the church, God, the church’s relationship to people with disabilities, and so forth. That’s partially because it’s Easter and Passover month, but it’s also because these are just topics that have been on my mind for awhile or have come to me as I’ve gone about my daily business. This next topic might be a bit complicated, but I do want to explore it, if for no other reason than nobody else has so far. Plus, you guys are kind of giving me a practice run for a writing project I have simmering in my brain.

I got the idea for this post while surfing around on the Web and Facebook. On Facebook, I’m a semi-frequent visitor of pages like Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid, Handicap This, and the Asperger’s Women’s Association. The latter of these recently posted a meme that said (paraphrased), What many people consider normal or brush off, a person with Asperger’s may dwell on for days. I thought about that, and some other things came to mind.

First of all, I’m a dweller, too. It’s one of those melancholic occupational hazard things. Maybe that’s why, even after forgiving the people who perpetrated it, thinking about the discrimination of my teaching internship still hurts. It’s not that I want to dwell or stay stuck; it’s just that for me, and for many others, I bet, people and things that cause deep emotions have a way of sticking around. So I get the fact that Asperger’s, and maybe other disabilities, might make one predisposed to dwelling.

But two, society, and especially the church, considers dwelling on anything a harmful behavior. It’s even in the Old Testament: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” Paul echoes this in the New Testament when he discusses not looking back at his past, but looking forward and “[running] the race marked out before [him].” And I’m not saying he was wrong. Certainly God was not. And if anybody had a reason to forget his past, it was Paul. I mean, the guy mercilessly killed Christians for a living and thought he was doing God’s work. He made most Spanish Inquisitors look like sissies. You don’t even have to be a Christian to get that dwelling is unhealthy. Just turn on Dr. Phil or Oprah or any of those folks (and no, I am not making a statement about what religion I think they are) and you’ll see where dwelling can get you. The problem is that, in trying to avoid that behavior, I think people–even and especially the Christian church–may inadvertently minimize pain. In some cases, they may also end up penalizing an individual with a disability for something that is natural for them to do.

Dwelling is not the only characteristic common to Asperger’s, autism, and other disabilities that may come under fire. What about the fact that some people with Asperger’s and autism have highly specialized interests? By “highly specialized,” I mean, at times, to the point that the interest is all they talk about. To the point that the interest is all-consuming. Now again, on its own, that’s not necessarily a healthy thing to do. It’s why loved ones (not necessarily therapists and “experts”) should help the PWD learn to step back from certain interests or topics and focus more on other people and what they like. But does that also mean that the PWD’s interests should be ignored or penalized? Some people would say yes. In fact, some people in the church might accuse the PWD with a specialized interest of idolatry, claiming that he or she places the interest before God.

So, in these two examples, you can see what I think is going on here. I think the church is doing its best, but I also think that, if we’re not careful, the Judeo-Christian worldview could end up accusing people with certain disabilities of sins or unhealthy behavior where none exist. We could also end up accusing people who don’t understand fully what our accusations mean. Honestly, can you tell me that a five-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome is going to understand why a well-meaning, but misguided Sunday school teacher uses his obsession with dinosaurs as an example of idolatry? Are you going to tell me that even the most high-functioning adult with a disability where the brain naturally hyper-focuses is going to “understand” when a well-meaning but misguided pastor or church member says, “You need to forgive that person and quit using your disability as an excuse?”

I hear what you’re saying: “I don’t know anybody who does that.” Well, if that’s true, then you’re blessed, as am I. But I wrote this post for two reasons. One, anybody can twist a religious worldview and its teachings around to say whatever suits that person, and it’s happened to Christianity over and over. That’s the reason why some people still believe that disability is a curse or punishment–so it’s not far-fetched to say that people might also believe PWDs are predisposed to certain sins and thus irredeemable in those areas. You and I know that’s a lie, but those people don’t. Two, faiths of all kinds are filled with judgmental people, whether they’re vocal about it or not. Now of course, we all, yours truly included, have days when we’re judgmental jerks. I myself get so mad at people who are judgmental that I have to repent for being judgmental of the judgmental! How whacked out is that? But see, some people are like that 24-7, and people with disabilities can be among their favorite targets.

So, now you know the problem. The question is, what can we do about it? Well, this one’s tricky, especially when you’re dealing with a Christian worldview. The world has become so tolerant of actual sin that it’s easy to say, “Don’t give those folks an out because they have disabilities. If you want them treated like everybody else, call their sin, sin, and expect them to deal with it.” I understand, but I don’t agree. I say two things to that:

1. Make Sure the Sin You’re Calling Out is a Real Sin. That is, I don’t believe people with disabilities, who have highly specialized interests, are always out to commit idolatry. Now, yes, that can happen. I myself have a highly specialized interest in books, so I have to watch myself to be sure it doesn’t turn into an obsession or something that could hurt me financially, emotionally, or spiritually. And a lot of people with high-functioning disabilities are in the same situation. That is, they can understand when you say, “This is unhealthy and even sinful,” and they can get to the point, with compassionate counsel, where they can deal with those issues. But some PWDs either don’t fully understand that concept, or they’re not sinning in the first place. That is, they’re not looking at a specialized interest or a tendency to over-think things and going, “I’m gonna do this and who cares what God thinks.” They may just be doing what is natural for them to do. (And no, I am NOT FOR ONE SECOND saying this argument would work for an ax-murderer or a rapist, so don’t even start). I’m just saying, be careful what you call a sin.

2. Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment. If you do have to tell a PWD that he or she is engaging in sinful behavior, remember what James said. Also, don’t assume, “Yes, of course he or she is going to sin in X way because they have this disability.” We’ve talked about this before and we know what it leads to. Just don’t do it.

3. Handle with Grace. Okay, so let’s do a “road test” on this. Say you have an individual with a disability wherein the brain naturally hyper-focuses on stuff. This could be autism, Asperger’s, or any number of other conditions. The object of the hyper-focus could be anything from why your tie isn’t straight to why we allowed vanilla Coke. But right now, the individual is focused on the fact that they’ve been hurt. They know they should forgive the person who did it, and they want to, because it’s what they’re taught they should do as a Christian, or a Jew, or whatever. But they can’t. Now, can this be blamed on the disability? Not entirely–that’s where overcoming comes in, at least in most cases. (There are some cases where a mental or psychological disability is so severe or entrenched that the answer may be different). But should that person be told, “You are openly rebelling against God?” No, I don’t think so. It would be better to ask questions like, “What can I do to help you get through this pain?” It would also be helpful to say that you recognize forgiveness is a process, and that you will support that person as they go through it, however long that takes.

I think that at its core, the Christian church and other faiths have good intentions when it comes to persons with disabilities. But too often, we look with the eyes in our heads and see the pictures we’re most comfortable with, like sacrificial lambs, or people that are predisposed to sin and will rebel openly and unrepentantly no matter what you do. I think the eyes of our hearts could tell a better story, even when dealing with characteristics of disabilities that are “unhealthy” or sinful. So let’s refocus, shall we?


Heaven is for Real, but So is Life: Giving People with Severe Disabilities Full Lives

Hello, readers,

One of the biggest current box office hits is Heaven is for Real, based on the book written by Pastor Todd Burpo about his son Colton’s journey to Heaven and back. Colton, then four, died for a brief period as a result of a ruptured appendix and the complications thereof, but survived. He then began sharing details of Heaven with his family, especially his dad, who then wrote the book. I have read that book (usually while standing in the aisles of Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs, since I don’t normally buy short volumes). I think it’s excellent, touching, and thought-provoking. Of course, I know there’s controversy involved. I also know I don’t need a four-year-old’s word to tell me Heaven is a real place. I’ve never been there–probably a good thing, since I’d be trying every means possible to get back, like any sane human–but it is my absolute conviction that this place exists. I personally can’t wait to see the movie.

Heaven brings hope and joy to a lot of people. Actually, let’s not even say “a lot.” Let’s be honest and say, bookoos. Almost every religion I know of has a goal of getting to Heaven, or some form of paradise (Nirvana, Valhalla, Paradise, and so forth). I’ll speak from my own experience, though, since I’ve never been part of a faith other than Christianity.

Christians are taught that Heaven is the ultimate goal. That’s not a pass to commit or attempt suicide–that would be dishonoring to a holy God who gave us life and in fact died so we could keep living, rather than being zapped into hell for eternity for our sins at the moment of accountability. But part of salvation is also eternal life. Immortality. I believe this is the thing that all humans want most. Whether we realize exactly why or not, we all have this sense in our hearts that death is wrong–that death is not the way things should end, that it wasn’t part of the original deal. And, at least if you’re a Judeo-Christian or a Muslim, it wasn’t. So we cling to Heaven as the way to resolve that issue. We will be immortal in Heaven. We will be perfect, incapable of sinning and with no desire to do so. We will have no pain. It’s a pretty good deal–the best deal out there, and that’s putting it mildly.

Here’s the thing, though. Some people, even within the church, act as though we are just killing time before we get to Heaven. And other people act as though for some, Heaven is the one and only hope they have. You guys know where I’m going with this, right? Right. I’m thinking about people with disabilities, particularly severe or profound ones. Too often, I look at the Christian church–and maybe other faiths as well–and I see an attitude that says, “Oh, poor Rebecca. It’s such a shame she has to live like this. But you know, one day she’ll be in Heaven and won’t have to suffer.”

Don’t get me wrong. Disabilities can cause great pain and suffering. They weren’t part of the original plan anymore than death was (though that’s a whole other theological ballgame. One has to wrestle with the question: if God loves PWDs–and He absolutely does–then why allow the disabilities? Why allow the suffering? Why stipulate in the Old Testament that animals with blemishes or imperfections were not acceptable for sacrifice–does that say something about humans as well)? But we’re not here to answer every theological question in the book. I don’t have the answers and maybe I never will. Back to the main point: disabilities can cause great pain, and no one wants to see a loved one suffer. So it might make sense to cling to Heaven as a hope for that loved one, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. It may in fact be that your loved one with a disability is in a vegetative state, or so affected that he or she can do nothing but sit and drool. In that circumstance, I don’t blame you for focusing on the afterlife.

Yet, I still think clinging to Heaven can be a problem. The repercussions of such a view can be as painful as the disability itself. For example, the suffering of a PWD is, in my view, no excuse to promote the view that those people should be euthanized. Yes, some countries, like Russia and Belgium, are still pushing for this as a solution, even for babies, and it makes me furious. Furious and absolutely sick.

But say the attitude isn’t that extreme. Say you have a parent or guardian or other loved one who says, “No, I don’t want my loved one to die, but they don’t have a real life here.” See, that’s where we’ve gotta get off our theological high horses and get practical. Heaven is for real–but so is real life. People with disabilities, no matter how severe those are, deserve real, full lives. Period. Heaven is a good hope–in some ways the best hope–but it is not an excuse. And if we continue to present it as such, inside and outside the church, PWDs will continue to struggle with the belief that they have no reason to be on earth.

So, how do we give PWDs of any degree real, full lives? Well, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you probably know a few ways, but let’s break it down again.

Instead of: Institutions, Group Homes, Facilities

Choose: Letting PWDs live at home with their families, with spouses and roommates, or in other living arrangements that, as much as possible, they have say in

Instead of: Menial jobs and the constant presence of job coaches

Choose: Jobs in which the PWD shows real interest

Instead of: Work 1-2 hours a day, 3-5 hours a week for little or no pay

Choose: Work for the length of time the person can actually do, for real pay and real benefits (not just health benefits, but the benefit of real socialization with coworkers, real responsibility to a boss or team, and so on)

Instead of: Constantly waiting for services to do what they promise they will, but rarely do

Choose: To push the “services” to keep their word. If they can’t or won’t, look to other avenues, and be vocal about the fact that the services you were first directed to did not follow through.

Instead of: Assuming your loved one with a disability cannot communicate because he or she doesn’t use his or her mouth

Choose: Assistive technology that makes communication possible so that you know for certain what your loved one needs and wants. If money is an object, seek help, and not always from “services.” Help can come from your friends, your neighbors, your house of worship, your community.

Instead of: Segregation, isolation, “special” places, “special” outings

Choose: To assist your loved one in making and keeping real, reciprocal friendships and participating in leisure activities the way everyone else can and does

You see, I think the main problem we–the church, the faith community, everybody–has is that, once again, we’re looking at the lives people with disabilities often have, and we’re saying, “Who wants to live like that?” Right–nobody–but don’t expect God and Heaven to provide a cop-out. Make LIFE possible for people with disabilities. Yes, inclusion is becoming a bigger trend–but we can always do more.

So while we’re waiting for Heaven, how about making life on earth a true pleasure as well?

Oh, God with the Waiting!: Are We Using God’s Will and “Waiting” as an Excuse?

Hello again, readers,

It’s Good Friday, so of course, I’m feeling a bit more grateful and serious than usual. I realize that not everyone believes Jesus Christ died for their sins, and that’s fine. But I do, so that’s what is on my mind today. But along with that, I’m thinking about this: what is God’s will for people with disabilities, and does the Christian church at large–as well as, I’m guessing, other faith communities–use God’s will as an excuse not to reach out to PWDs?

Why would I ask these questions? Well, let’s back up a bit. I collect tropes. If you don’t know what a trope is, it’s a literary device used to help a story get across, get a laugh, get a tear, or otherwise enhance the story. It’s not a cliché because even though it’s used a lot, it has actually become an accepted part of storytelling and entertainment. Tropes are also not clichés because many of them have become just plain unavoidable. For example, if your book, movie, TV show, or whatever has a princess in it, it’s not out of line to assume that she’s a kind, compassionate character. Compassion for her is less cliché than it is an accepted princess trait. By the way, if you’re thinking, “You’ve really analyzed this,” well, yes. My thanks goes out to the TV Tropes and Idioms website, which had a hand in the title of this post.

One of these tropes is called, according to TV Tropes and Idioms, “Oh, God with the Verbing.” Lest you believe I am purposely taking in vain the name of the God I just extolled, here, it’s not meant as a swear word. Here, it’s meant more as, “Quit it, already.” The trope is described as what happens when a character says something like, “Oh, God with the stabbing” when describing a swordfight, or when a character, like Bartok from Anastasia, says something like, “Enough already with the glowing and the smoke people!” And I think that in the world of PWDs, there’s a definite case of Oh, God with the Verbing going around. You got it: “Oh, God with the waiting! Enough with the waiting, already!”

Think about it. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that we’ve discussed what often happens when a child is diagnosed with a disability. The events include, but are not limited to:

  • The parents or guardians being expected to grieve; if they don’t. they’re in denial and not being realistic
  • Low expectations being set for the child
  • A lot of Plans, like IFSPs, IEPs, IHPs…and the list goes on
  • A ton of meetings about what the child (or young adult, as they allegedly grow up–but we know that’s not true because that person is often still treated as childlike) will do in the future, if anything (and often, the goals set in those meetings never come to pass–we’ll get to that)
  • A lot of goals for the PWD, some of which–or in some cases, all of which–can be used as arbitrary expectations and discipline methods

Having a disability also comes with a lot, and I do mean a lot, of waiting. I’ve dealt with it myself, and it is one of the toughest things anyone can go through. I cannot tell you how many hours I have sat, isolated in my house, waiting and waiting and waiting…and waiting and waiting and waiting some more, for something to give in my life, for something to change. This also happens in the lives of many other persons with disabilities and their families. Think about it:

  • The parents of a baby with a disability are told, “We’ll have to wait to see what your child is capable of.” (Often, that’s deemed to be little, or at least less than what the child can truly do)
  • Teachers tell the parents: “Your child isn’t ready for kindergarten or the next grade–you need to wait.”
  • A child with a disability is told: “You’re not ready to go to this place, to do this activity, to be with your friends in a regular class. Let’s wait until you’re ready” (but that’s never defined, or the definition keeps changing)
  • A young adult with a disability is told: “Vocational Rehab will help you find a job. You just have to be patient and wait.”
  • “You will live on your own someday. But not now. Just wait.”

Sometimes, there are even waiting lists for “services”–lists that stretch on for days, for services that often don’t see the person with a disability as a whole person with real dreams, goals, and desires. But even if there isn’t a waiting list, people with disabilities are constantly expected to stay in a holding pattern, to perpetually wait. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, that takes a major toll. I don’t know which of those dimensions are the most affected, but let’s zero in on the spiritual dimension for a minute.

I realize that this might seem odd, and might not apply to all PWDs because they haven’t grown up in a church community. But many people do, including me. And so we grow up with a twofold idea:

(1. God has a plan for all our lives, and His timing is not ours. Therefore…

(2. It is to our benefit to wait to find out what the plan is, and not complain or take things into our own hands in the meantime

Of course, I’m not saying that it’s somehow “illegal” to complain about the plan, or to try to “help God out.” Plenty of people in the Bible, and people today, have done both, and God responds patiently. He’s a big boy. He knows humans are–well, human, and most of the time, we just don’t get it. We’d rather always have our way than participate in His perfect plan. So it’s not wrong to want to participate in that plan, either. But here’s where I think the teaching, the doctrine, if you will, has the potential to break down. We have to examine whether or not, in telling people, especially people with disabilities, to continue to wait, we are encouraging passivity and in some cases, feeding frustrations.

What do I mean by that? I’ll use my own real-life example. As you all know, I’ve waited for many, many years to see some of my personal goals realized. I’ve been more fortunate than some PWDs, because I’ve been able to verbalize those goals and do what I can to make them happen. But there’s only so much I can do in a small town that has few job opportunities and even fewer services for people who are high-functioning. Now of course, it has been comforting to me to know that God sees these things and has a master plan. But you know something? About the twenty-sixth time I heard something like that, I started to get frustrated and upset. Because the more the people around them tell persons with disabilities, “It’s God’s will; just wait,” the harder the waiting seems. And that’s not God’s fault, it’s humanity’s fault.

Think about this, okay? What if, instead of constantly telling PWDs to wait, we reexamined how we are reaching out to them and what we could do better? What if, instead of focusing on our goals and our expectations for these people, we asked them what their own dreams were, and worked to make them happen? What if, instead of using God to justify our dragging our feet, we told the truth: “God has a master plan, and He asks humans to participate in that. I will participate by helping you reach your goals–the goals you choose. Now, there’s only so much a human can do, so some of this, we do have to leave up to God (or whatever divine power you prefer). But God’s plan is not an excuse to leave you hanging.”

God did ask us to wait–but the Messiah did come eventually. Jesus was resurrected eventually–and quickly, too. People without disabilities usually get to someplace they want to be, without being stuck in some kind of perpetual holding pattern that goes on for ten years or more because the “experts” decreed that that’s how things were gonna be.

Why can’t we do the same for people with disabilities? Why do they still have to wait?


The Parent Trap: Why Are We Blaming Parents for Disabilities?

Hello, readers,

After some computer issues, I have returned for the first post of April. I’ve actually been working up this one for awhile, ever since I decided to watch a few videos on YouTube one day last month. Among those was a TLC documentary entitled My Deadly Appetite, about a young man named William Weaver who has Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS).

Some of you may remember that we’ve discussed PWS on this blog before. In its most basic terms, PWS involves a malfunction of the hypothalamus, the brain region that controls involuntary functions. Among these are appetite and sensations of satiety and hunger. A person who has Prader-Willi cannot recognize when he or she is full. That individual experiences starving-level hunger 24-7, no matter how much he or she eats. Therefore, that person must be supervised constantly in order to avoid foraging to the point of causing a stomach rupture or other complications.

As said, William Weaver is one such person. My Deadly Appetite documents his journey with PWS as he leaves his Southeast home for a children’s institute in Pittsburgh, where he spends about six weeks losing weight, getting counseling, and preparing for big lifestyle changes at home. As I watched the documentary, I thought about this blog and how PWS can count as a disability. But at the same time, I read some of the comments aimed at William’s story.

To be honest, they were disgraceful. They included things like (paraphrase here) “It’s the parents’ fault…they’re so stupid and lazy,” and “He should be put in a nursing home.” I also saw comments like, “Just because he has ‘special needs’ the parents don’t discipline…so he’s fat…if a special needs kid punched me in the face, I’d punch them back…” as well as other comments related to kids with disabilities and the allegation that they have no discipline or control, largely because of parents.

I let the person who made these comments know I was appalled (they responded in an immature way, so I chose not to engage further). But reading these comments did make me think: why are parents of kids with disabilities so often blamed for the disabilities? Why do some people, including doctors and other “experts,” claim, essentially, that these parents could cure their kids if they’d just try harder, discipline more, and so on? Well, here’s a wake-up call, folks: most disabilities cannot be cured, and we need to stop acting as if the answer to all disabilities is to cure them or to “work on” PWDs so that they can be “normal.” They don’t need that–and their parents certainly do not need flak.

Now, of course, as with most things, there are exceptions to this issue. Some parents choose not to discipline their children because those children have disabilities. Or, arguably worse, they set the bar very low for their kids so that discipline and self-control are never learned, because in those families’ minds, they are non-issues. And of course, you also have parents who discipline kids with disabilities too much, or take up their kids’ lives with therapies and appointments and treatments so their child can somehow be “fixed.” None of these situations are ideal, and they all hurt the people involved. But I think it must hurt most of all to be a loving, well-intentioned parent, raising your child with a disability to interact in the world and have self-confidence as best you can, and then have some nimrod shoot off their mouth about what you’re doing wrong.

I recently took a job as a writer for an online text company. One of the articles I chose to write was entitled “Seven Things Not to Say to Parents of Autistic Children.” I want to share some of those things with you, but with a slight change. These are the things we shouldn’t be saying to parents of children with any disability–and what we should be saying instead.

“I’m So Sorry.”

Yes, we understand that disability can be physically, emotionally, and mentally painful for any family dealing with it. But most parents would also say that to hear an apology the minute you meet their child with a disability actually feels like a slap in the face. Why? Well, I’m not a mother, but I do have a disability, so here’s my theory. In immediately responding with “I’m sorry,” here are a few things you may be implying:

-The child is a stressor and a pain, and not much else

-The child is pitiful

-The child has little to no future

-The parent is consistently sad, angry, stressed out, and wondering why he or she was “picked on” to have a disabled child

The truth, though, is that most parents whose kids have disabilities see them as true joys and blessings. They don’t consider themselves picked on–and yes, they feel stress, but raising any child is an exercise in stress. Those parents may struggle to believe that their child has a future, but I’d like to believe American society is working to make that less of a worry. So instead of saying, “I’m sorry,” how about, “Hi, how are you and Ava doing today? Can I help you in any way?” Likely, the best way you can help is to socialize, just as you would with any other parent.

“He/she just needs a good spanking.”

Yes, there are people who believe that disabilities would be less of a big deal if they were spanked or punished out of children. And yes, like other kids, some kids with disabilities may legitimately be undisciplined. But unless or until you know for sure, do not say this. In fact, don’t say it anyway. It implies the parent isn’t doing his or her job, and that’s a pretty major insult.

“But he doesn’t look disabled.”

Oh, okay, gotcha. So kids with disabilities need to look a certain way in order to get noticed or get the help and modifications they need? Kids with disabilities need to look a certain way to fit into your box? Thank you for that keen observation. I was really starting to miss the Of Mice and Men days. Not.

“God gives special parents special children/this was God’s will.”

I have said this before and will say it again: be extremely careful when you bring God into a disability-related conversation. In fact, you’re probably better off not bringing Him into it. I have a disability and am a Christian, and I still struggle every day with the idea that it was “God’s will” for me to have cerebral palsy. Some people, even and including Judeo-Christians, are flummoxed and even offended by the idea that a loving God would will a disability to happen to one child and not another one. Parents often get offended when you say a child with a disability is “one of God’s special angels,” too. Heck, I’m not a parent and I get offended–are you saying other kids are not special angels? As for the special parents, special children, thing–well, all kids are special and will have special needs at some point. It may be that your kid has an observable disability. It may be that he doesn’t. It may be that your kid’s “special need” is a pair of glasses. So what?

“My cousin’s friend has X, so I know how you feel.”

No, you don’t. Every PWD will have a different life and different experiences. As it has been said about autism: if you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met ONE individual with autism. Kids with disabilities of any kind are not all the same.

“Is she retarded?”

Don’t say it. Just don’t.

“Have you tried X? I’ve heard Y helps. He wouldn’t have this disability if you would…”

This is similar to those people who ask me, “Can you exercise and make your CP go away?” When you say it to parents, it’s at best unsolicited advice. At worst, it’s a blame game. You may honestly be trying to help, and that’s fine. But most people have probably heard dozens and dozens of treatments and cures already and would rather have friendship and understanding.

I could go on for awhile, but I’ll leave this post here. Just remember: every parent of a child or young adult with a disability is, ideally, doing his or her best. Advice, blame, and rudeness are unwelcome–but true concern and friendship are always needed.