A Life With Autism Is Not A Life Wasted

A Life With Autism Is Not A Life Wasted

Your satisfaction in life is not dependent on the value that society puts on it.
506
views

Autism and other learning/mental disorders are a growing topic in today's society, and while others may believe that it can hurt a family as a whole, I wholeheartedly believe that our experiences in the world of Autism have only made my family stronger. My brother, Tristian, has Autism, and he does not deserve to be labeled as a "failure."

Tristian is one of the main reasons I love my life. I was there when he took his first steps and said his first words and he was there when I needed a shoulder to cry on. I don't think there's been a time where I wasn't thinking about him or the moments we've shared in one way or another. He is the absolute sweetest child you could ever meet, as well as one of the most determined.

There is no measure of the amount of love I have for that little boy, and he just happens to have Autism. In others' eyes, he'll never amount to anything in the "big picture." In our society, he is praised outwardly, yet is limited by the constructs we put up. He'll never have a "normal" or "meaningful" life and will "always need constant care." But what gave everyone the right to rate the happiness and potential of another human being? Why are we not asking the right questions?

Instead of judging or casting off people who suffer from a disability, why are we not collectively pushing to make their lives live up to our own standards? If we're not doing anything to help families suffering, we have no place to comment on the occurrence of disabilities in such families.

In my own experiences, when anyone says that a mental disability, like Autism, is a burden or a "waste of life," I can't help but disagree with that mindset. Of course, every family, in general, goes through their own set of medical problems, but the idea that a ruined life is synonymous with living with a disability is downright cynical and uncaring. Your life does not end when God presents you with new obstacles. Obstacles in life only make you stronger and the absence of said obstacles breeds complacency and discrimination.

My life with my brother and his diagnosis has only made me more grateful for the things I've been given. Whether Tristian had Autism or not, I would still have someone that I would be proud to call my brother. Autism has never and will never impede on his idea of self-worth or confidence. My family's bond may not be the strongest the world has ever seen, but the love surrounding us is undeniable.

No family should be labeled by the disability their child has. Their time is not wasted or thrown away, and their potential shouldn't be demeaned by stigmas that society has a hard time letting go.

Cover Image Credit: Sophia Raquel Garza

Popular Right Now

A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

This one's for you.
24823
views

You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that. I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions. After everything life has put you through you have still remained soft. This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did. You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself. You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away. Remember that it is OK to say no. You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

An Inside Look At Alzheimer's

This is just a little introduction to the journey my family and I have been on with my grandma while she struggled with Alzheimer's.

310
views

My grandmother, my mom's mom, was the most beautiful soul in this world, even throughout her battle with Alzheimer's. My grandma's name is Joan Kohanski (but us grandkids called her Baba) and she was born on February 22, 1938. She was diagnosed with polio in her legs at the young age of 14. She has walked with canes ever since then but lived such an adventurous life. She married my papa (Ron) on August 8, 1959. The first daughter of theirs' was my Aunt Karen on May 25, 1961. My mom (Gail) came along on February 10, 1964. Finally, my Aunt Julie (we call her T.T.) was born on June 13, 1966.

They took many family vacations, many boat rides on my papa's boat on Lake Erie, and even a cross-country road trip in their R.V. Our family is so much fun when we get together for events and holidays, but we all agree that Baba would make everything feel whole again. Baba, as told by my mom, loved her family. It made her entire world go 'round. She would have sacrificed anything for her family and she did in many cases. One time, my Baba, Papa, and all the girls went to Cedar Point for the day. Baba didn't ride any rides that day, so she selflessly walked around all day on her canes and had blisters when the day was over just for her family. She loved her grandkids, all nine of them (me included). She was also very funny and had a great sense of humor, and I see her live through my mom every day.

I'm not sure if anyone has ever heard of this before, but supposedly, cardinals are your loved ones making themselves known that they are still there with you.

The amount of times that I have seen cardinals since her passing is uncanny and nobody can tell me that it's just a coincidence. The funniest part about it is that she lived on Cardinal Drive when my mom was growing up, and that's still where my papa lives today. Another really special thing to me is that I am part of the sorority that she was in, Delta Gamma. It makes me feel as if I have my own special connection with her that no one can take away, since all of my cousins and siblings that are older than me remember her before she was diagnosed, and I have a vague memory of it.

Baba was diagnosed with Alzheimer's around 2006 and lived with it until May 12, 2016. Her struggle with this horrible disease was not easy, certainly on her, but any of us, especially Papa. Papa took care of her at home until he was unable to anymore, which then he made the decision to put her in a care facility. She started out in a typical room by herself. As her condition got worse, she moved into the Alzheimer's unit with other people who had the same illness. If anyone has never had the first-hand experience with a loved one suffering from this disease, it is truly the most heartbreaking thing in the world. I would never wish that on my worst enemy. You start to see the person you love and look up to the most slowly become less and less of themselves, and it's not their fault. You learn to forgive them for the times that they forget your name and who you are. You know that it's really not them and they can't help it.

The whole journey of her suffering has been such a hardship to everyone in my family. It's probably the worst thing that any of us will ever go through. I am so happy with where she is right now because I know that she is in a better place, and rid of any and all illness. It's hard to come to terms that she isn't here with us any longer, and it's almost selfish of me to question "Why us?". I would do anything to have her back today but I know that there is always a reason why and I have to trust it. If you or someone you know has a family member or loved one that has Alzheimer's, just know that you are certainly not alone and other people totally understand.

Related Content

Facebook Comments