The media loves a good miracle story of overcoming the odds. Heck, so do I, but do you ever stop to think about the messages we soak up from a steady diet of flashy “suddenly” stories? Especially for those whose stories do not play out that way.
Leigh Merryday Porch raised that question when she took to Facebook and addressed this very issue. Porch is the mother of an autistic son and spoke from experience when she pointed to how these stories can diminish the miracle of people showing up everyday despite their struggles.
On her Facebook Page “Flappiness Is” she wrote:
“If you have an autistic child, you’ve seen the stories. Friends tend to tag you in them or PM you to share. They’re stories of autistic kids who didn’t talk but do now, children who sing the national anthem, young women who compete in beauty pageants and those on the spectrum who graduate from college. And you don’t mind the stories, because human beings persevering in the face of adversity is a beautiful thing.”
“But invariably,” she expains, “Somewhere in the story is a quote that goes something like this: ‘When experts told her her son would never talk, never have friends, never graduate, she declared ‘Over my dead body.’”
According to Porch, that statement of “Over my dead body” can feel like a slap in the face to families dealing with autisms and other disabilities.
“Some disabilities cannot be overcome. They can be accepted, worked with, planned for and accommodated, but no amount of parental love and determination can erase them.” She went on to say, “The fact that I can accept that and love him unconditionally does not reflect him having not been raised by someone willing to try harder.”
Porch makes the point that a child doing the “unexpected and unrealistic” should not be a cause to make them any more or less worthy.
In our age of hype, it’s easy to dismiss anything living in the no-man’s-land between the extremes. Courage to continue under unrelenting circumstances is one of the greatest acts of bravery there is, and it is the life story of many. Porch Concluded her post with this:
“The presence of an autistic adult in the world who doesn’t make the newspaper is not a statement of failure. Not of society, not of his family, and certainly not of himself. And other than steadfastly insisting he be given every reasonable opportunity any other person has to live, learn, and grow, no other declarations need be made – and no dead bodies required.”
To all the families out there showing up everyday despite the difficulties and struggles, we applaud you, and echo Porch’s sentiment: a “miracle” is not required for a life to be worthy.