Friendship without Judgment
When some look at my autistic son Jackson, they think hmm... different, unable to think for himself, unable to function in society, a behavior problem and a million other things associated with the label autism. When some look at Joe, they think hmm... intimidating and whatever label they put on him. But, when they see each other, the only thought is Friend.
Unfortunately, we live in a world of superficial judgment. Most of society is quick to judge a person based on their appearance or their preconceived label rather than their character. The irony is that those quick to judge are typically the same individuals with questionable character.
As the parents of an autistic child, we have lived with constant challenges and judgment – some subtle and others blatant. The surprise was, this was not limited to random people. Friends and family have been guilty. We have seen life-long friends evaporate from our lives. Family relationships have in some cases become more distant. Sometimes it is just too hard for people to deal with. We understand this, yet we are determined to give Jackson an abundant life.
We do not expect society to conform to him. We have worked hard for our family to blend into society. Our goal, giving Jackson his voice through exposer to as many things as possible. Many parents rarely take their children out. Leaving them home while menial chores or activities are done. Often with the justifiable feeling to protect them from some of the cruel judgments that are so often encountered. We refuse to do so. We include Jackson in every aspect of our lives. While it can be difficult at times, we have seen the value in Jackson’s participation. He has grown leaps and bounds.
Understanding the great need for autism professionals; we never assume that a "non-professional could not offer Jackson just as much.
If we were to shelter Jackson from our daily activities, Jackson would have never had the opportunity to meet Joe. Jackson has a pure heart and sees the world through non-judgmental eyes. Joe is the same. Joe looks at the potential and abilities in everyone. Joe never speaks down to Jackson; he never assumes he can't understand and never judges his label of autism. . Because of this, he has been able to train Jackson to work hard and push himself.
Jackson and Joe are good examples of what our society should strive to become…Friends without judgment.
For those parents who are saddened by the loss or fading of friends and family relationships, I say be encouraged. There are new and better friends in your future. You need to be brave enough to put yourself out there to meet them.
"The most important thing people did for me was to expose me to new things." - Temple Grandin
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.