Accept or Attack (Revised 2-2-15)

30. January 2012 blog posts, Mr. Bacon 21

My wife knew before I did.  Well, maybe I knew but battled denial.  Our pediatrician wasn’t a bad guy, but he was way too “let’s wait and see” for our taste.  My Dad called in a favor and got us an appointment with a specialist.  After trudging through an agonizing questionnaire, she met with us and watched Eric (three years old or so) pour through a bucket of plastic animal figurines until he found his obsession of the day:  a little gray horse.  She was blunt.  I will never forget her words:  “I can beat around the bush and tell you he has ‘tendencies’ and there are possible ‘indicators’, or I can cut to the chase… Eric has Autism.”  

I would be lying if I said I was devastated.  I wasn’t.  I was… emboldened?  To me, we had now identified the enemy.  Once you identify your enemy you can plan your strategy and attack it.  My wife seemed to drift back and forth between devastation and strength, a pattern that continues today.  I remember driving to my parents’ house (they were baby sitting Anna and Eric) and giving them the news.  I will also never forget my Dad’s response: “OK, how do we beat it?”  Like father like son, I guess.  The next four seven years would be a… roller coaster is too cliche’… more like a white water rapid ride.

During these past few years I have met and read about many families dealing with raising children on the spectrum.  I have been fascinated with the two distinct philosophies that exist:  Attack or Accept.

The Attack camp believes their children were injured, altered or somehow affected by an outside force (the vaccine-injury debate will be covered in a later post left for someone else to argue about).  They believe their child’s condition can be treated and even healed.  They seek out biomedical treatments, homeopathic therapies and behavioral interventions.

The Accept camp believes their child was born in God’s image.  He is different, but equal.  He sees and interacts with the world differently, but is beautiful and perfect in his own way.  Their role is to love and guide their child through his path in life and educate the world toward more tolerance and acceptance of special needs individuals. 

Just recently I have arrived at a place smack-dab in the middle.  I believe my son’s Autism can be treated and managed carries with it some clinical challenges such as anxiety, OCD and gut issues that can be treated and managed.  He has made remarkable progress and there is plenty of credit to spread around to his doctors, therapists, teachers, family and pharmacists.   I also accept that he will never be “typical” and will always have unique challenge he is a remarkably unique and gifted little individual.  I still attack.  But I no longer attack out of fear or desperation.  Now I attack his Autism challenges with a calm, strategic confidence.  

It is my hope that this blog will serve to comfort, inspire or teach somebody out there who is just today receiving what they think is the worst news of their life (it really isn’t)Accept or Attack.  You choose.  But get up.  Your child needs you.

21 thoughts on “Accept or Attack (Revised 2-2-15)”

  • 1
    Eric's Mom on January 30, 2012 Reply

    He is lucky to have you for his Dad. Whenever I'm crumbling, you are always there to hold me up. I hope Eric will feel that we both "accept" him and will also fight the good fight to "attack" whatever we can and make sure he lives a happy and rewarding life being surrounded by people that love him.

  • 2
    The Gift of Aspergers on January 30, 2012 Reply

    Well said! As you accept your son for who he is, you are better equipped to help him manage the challenges of his autism – and to help him accept the gifts that it brings.

  • 3
    Autism-Daddy on January 30, 2012 Reply

    Great first post!!! Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging!!


  • 4
    Mama2Matthew on January 31, 2012 Reply

    Great post! I too am in the middle place. While I do not know for sure either way about the outside influences I can't deny the genetic aspect. God created him and who am I to say God messed up? But, I can do my part and help my boy have the best life possible!
    Good stuff.. looking forward to more!

  • 5
    Tessa on January 31, 2012 Reply

    Great post! Welcome to bloggy land. I too am somewhere in the middle.

  • 6
    grantsmama on January 31, 2012 Reply

    We too fall in the middle, I'd love to read more posts on this.. I find it challenging.. to find the line of what we will do and what we won't do..

  • 7
    Autism-Daddy on January 31, 2012 Reply

    I gave your new blog a plug on my Autism Daddy Facbook Page… Check out the plug at

  • 8
    unbridled1313 on January 31, 2012 Reply

    I am an accepter all the way. God made her perfect and to help me build my tolerance level 🙂 wonderful first post!

  • 9
    Warriormom4two on January 31, 2012 Reply

    Right on! Thank you Autism-Daddy for sharing this blog! Looking forward to more!

  • 10
    Unknown on January 31, 2012 Reply

    This was awesome and well executed. We certainly fall in the middle-ish. More so towards "attack." We feel in our situation genetics may play a roll because my husband has other Autistic members in his family but we know that with the right help our two kiddos on the Spectrum can make drastic improvement.

    As far as your wife goes…it's a mother thing =) That's her baby. You have this idea about how you thought your children were going to be and all the things you would get to do with them and you feel that all changes once a diagnosis comes along but then you get that urge to love them no matter what and advocate for their needs. I go back and forth between feeling depressed about it and then being the parent the school district dreads come IEP time =) Either way my kids get what they need. Two parents that adore them =) This was a great post =) You should set up a FB page for your blog =)

  • 11
    Crafter Dream on January 31, 2012 Reply

    Found your blog through a reccomendation by "Autism Daddy". I love this post and look forward to more. 🙂 Thank-you for sharing this. 🙂

    –David's mom

  • 12
    Eric's Grandma on January 31, 2012 Reply

    This post is so well done and comes right from the heart. Definitely look forward to more! As a Grandmother of a child with autism, I can tell you that upon acceptance comes a feeling of relief that covers you like a warm blanket – a belief that he is such a joy and pleasure to know and he is so truly unique and will achieve great things one day. He will have to work harder than the "typical" child but he will do just that because he is happier and stronger than we give him credit for. He is so special and brings such special pleasures to our days because we take nothing for granted and watch with such enthusiasm and openly celebrate the smallest of feats…one after another, each one being special and precious in its own way. I thought being a mother was the most precious gift a woman could have…I thought I couldn't possibly love anymore than I loved my children…then, I became a Grandmother. Then, I thought there could not be any greater love than that…then I became the Grandmother to a child with autism. My heart expanded larger than I ever thought possible and I could not ask for more than this precious, wonderful and unassuming child who changes every minute of every day that you spend with him into a world of sheer joy and hope for each new challenge to become part of his oh-so unique personality. He is not blessed to have us as his guidance and teachers…we are the ones who are blessed to have him as our precious teacher about life.

  • 13
    smspalmbeach on January 31, 2012 Reply

    Great post Jerry. looking forward to more..

  • 14
    Eric's Dad on January 31, 2012 Reply

    Thank you, everybody! I'm still trying to figure this blogging thing out. Stick with me.

  • 15
    The Gift of Autism on March 9, 2012 Reply

    I've been thinking about this post recently and there is a strong third camp – DENY. In my special education classroom, all of the parents are on the accept/attack spectrum. But working with mainstream teachers, I often encounter parents who just will not accept the fact their child is on the spectrum – even after diagnosis. These kids have the hardest time of all as they get very little support at home or at school to deal with the challenges of autism (attack). They also don't get support to celebrate what they can do (accept).

  • 16
    Eric's Dad on March 9, 2012 Reply

    Wow. That's a great point and something I haven't experienced. It must put the teachers in terribly difficult position between the needs of the student and the wishes of the parent.

  • 17
    Viki Reed on March 13, 2013 Reply

    Again, spare and perfect writing. I can tell you that sometimes schools are in denial because there is a big gaping hole in how to treat people on the outer rims of the spectrum, because they don't want to requisition the money to have true one on one in class support and because there are merit pay incentives for superintendents to reduce Special Education costs in a year in this county. Bravo again. Parents can't do it alone and your clarity makes it possible for you to 'attack' the world outside your house in an effort to get them to accept and join the effort in a positive and informed way.

  • 18
    Nannyviv on July 4, 2013 Reply

    I could have written this myself – we are grandparents to not one autistic child but 2 – a brother and sister aged 3 and 4 with just 10 months age gap between them (both on completely "different" strata of the spectrum and non verbal)…and also to a "typical" 12 year old boy (well he's not just "typical" he is actually gifted and talented in so many ways and that's not just grandma talking it is recognised by others around him)
    Our tears and distress at having diagnoses was for our daughter and her husband having to accept that their "dreams" of family life would have to be rewritten – it has taken a couple of years to get there, and it is still a rocky road. BUT just when we thought, like you, that we could not feel any MORE love for our family, we have been blessed with being a big part of 2 autistic lives – how it teaches you to really watch, listen and appreciate EVERY single day, every rare word and action like you just never did before…and laugh with joy as often as we cry with despair that we can't "help more". Your son's blog is amazing, my daughter also writes one at take a look sometime, we may be the other side of the Atlantic but we are soul mates with your family.

  • 19
    Yvonne Morentin on March 17, 2014 Reply

    I came over from Autism Dad… I have 3 kids, 2 have autism. My daughter 19 (moderate) my son 18 (severe)… I am more the accept group (not because of god, I leave that to religious people) but because we are all different. For me I have my theories. I really enjoyed your post.

  • 20
    Jessi on March 17, 2014 Reply

    I'm adopting you today!
    I came across your blog thanks to Autism Daddy. I've followed him for a few years now. I have an NT son, but for a few years I felt like we were teetering on the edge of a diagnosis. (it's a long story involving an uncooperative paternal side, unhelpful peds and one very very frightening ob)

    Since then, I've been extremely interested in learning about families on the spectrum, and looking into how I can help. I'm working hard to beat the "well meaning but very rude" comments. I hope I can make a difference!

  • 21
    Anonymous on February 3, 2015 Reply

    Thank you for being honest and admitting that sometimes you crumble. xx

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