November 08, 2013

Contagious Autism

I make no secret of the fact my son currently attends a private school dedicated solely to educating autistic kids. From Kindergarten to grade 11, it's 100% autistic kids. Heck, even some of the board members and teachers may be also. I'm pretty sure for one of the board members. Anywho!

They do offer inclusion, where students can spend a few days a week with a shadow at a local public "normal" school. However, my son is only 4 and not potty trained, so I have not taken advantage of this option. I'd rather him spend 100% of his time being 100% safe and supported, while taking full advantage of all the included therapies (speech, OT, music) he receives there and enjoys so much. 

All that said,  at some point, someone (like my mom) will say something like, "but if he's with autistic people all the time, he'll learn to be more autistic!"

Funny, isn't it?

When gay people are surrounded by predominantly straight people, do they become more straight?
When white people hang around black people, do they become black?
If men hang around a bunch of women, do they become female?
If blind people hang around sighted, do they gain sight?

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?

At the same time, let's just address this point: even if hanging around other autistics made one more autistic, is that really so bad? Is that really the worst thing that could happen? I can think of a whole lot of worse things my kid could come home with.

Also, what does it even mean, to be more autistic?

Just how we stop getting invited to play dates and parties, there's this strange fear that autism is contagious.

I'm aware kids can pick up habits from other kids, good and bad, but that happens at any school. That's not particular to disabled kids. And I can assure you, you will not become autistic from reading my blog or spending time in my presence.

I can tell you what I know for sure my son learns from attending this school:
He learns to accept differences.
He learns to communicate with all types of people.
He learns the spectrum is wide and we are all unique.
He learns to look beyond the superficial and get to know people for what's inside, because that's what counts.
He learns that though people may do certain things differently from him, they are still valid and can make important contributions.

I'd much rather him come home himself, autism included, than come home with head lice! 

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