Are parents of children with autism “heroes?”
Posted on January 7th, 2008 by Beth
Our son Gus has obvious physical and mental disabilities. My husband Mike takes Gus out and about quite a bit, and when strangers see Mike comforting Gus after a fit, or feeding Gus in a restaurant, they call Mike a saintâ€¦ or a hero.
Mike hates this.
“It’s an insult to Gus,” he says.
Now, a collection of stories about parents of children with autismÂ has some bloggersÂ questioning the meaning of the word “hero.”
An about.com review of Autism Heroes by Barbara Firestone said the 38 black and white portraits of parents and families in the book are lovely, but nothing else leads them to recommend the book.
… The gist: parents are heroes if they do not reject their children with autism.
A blog called Autism and other things that consume me doesn’t mince words when dismissing the hero label:
As the mother of a child with autism I get a lot of “I could NEVER do what you do, Julie!” from people. I don’t get it. If their child had autism, they’d stuff him in the garbage and walk away? They’d return him to the hospital as defective? They’d chain him in the basement and pretend he doesn’t exist? Being a parent to a child who happens to have this disorder makes me and other parents in this situation heroic?
Not sure what I think about heroism in relation to parenting children with disabilities. Also not sure what I think of Firestone’s book. I’m guessing the hero title might actually be a comfort to some parents out there, though. The hero title might motivate some parents to continue the challenging work of raising a child with autism. So hey, if this compilation of eulogies brings guidance and support to evenÂ a small number of parents of kids with autism, well, maybe Firestone is the biggest hero of all.Â