The Dark Side
autismseriouslyfunny.blogspot.com | Mar 28th 2012
My name is Zidlow Marx, and I’m the father of a remarkable son, who is hilariously funny, talented, entertaining, sweet . . . and autistic. His name is Elijah, and is 16 years old. He goes to public school and is taught in a mainstream classroom, with an aide. He is consistently on the honor roll, although I refuse to put a “My child is on the honor roll” decal on my car window. Why look for trouble? What happens if he starts getting F’s? I could get sued for false advertising, if I don’t scrape the declaration decal off immediately. Unfortunately, this announcement declaring my child’s proficiency in school does nothing to pump up my ego or invite friendships from other parents. I have found the best way to make, and repel, potential friends is to have a car decal that simply declares, “I’m broke.” If you are broke, it makes the observer feel successful and special; thus, they want to be with you. The other reaction is, “I better stay away from this loser. He may want to borrow money.” Both of these reactions are illuminating and useful. However, if it is a loan or a possible good friend you want, the first reaction will give you a better opportunity. After all, flattery will get you everywhere. The latter reaction is also propitious, because you wouldn’t want to have a comrade who is stingy and inexorable. Now to the subject at hand: This blog is about my journey with my son, and will serve as a decal on my window, declaring that he is autistic and wonderful, and an Awetee Knight. My goal is to tell my story about how I became a hopeful, excited, and successful, confident father, and found my journey back to life, after feeling kicked in the stomach and publicly whipped by these strangers who came into my life and told me that my son was autistic. Autistic? What in the hell is that? I thought. Whatever it was, I was sure a prescription and a little time would fix it, except that the dyspeptic expression on the woman’s face when delivering this news said otherwise. My upbringing, however, made me defiant – whether it was making the basketball team in arguably one of the toughest high schools in New York, or starting an apparel manufacturing business in my parent’s basement, against all stated odds, to a success most people will never achieve, and only dream about. I felt like I had steel in my gloves and could knock out any obstacle. While researching this frightening label , called “autism,” my ever-present confidence in myself and my ability to rise up against any adversary- human or institutional – was beginning to feel the heat. Having my “sand,” my “metal,” constantly being tested, and always being thrown into the line of fire, was the life I knew, in the blue-collar environment I loved and called home. Yet, somehow, I always felt lucky, and knew that I would prevail, or at least be left standing.
This would not come easily, but through sheer pigheaded desire. Giving in, in my mind, well, made you a punk. Never backing down if you believed the quest was decent and honest was a trait I inherited through genes and my familial environment.
I was proud of my parents and my two older brothers. I loved my big-hearted, honest, all-American home. Not perfect, no. But real, and without bull shit.
Being a contrarian and spitting at corrupt authority was my religion. But this? Autism? Autisitic? No cure? No remedy? No, not this. God threw something at me that was unbearable. Something I couldn’t get up at 5:00 in the morning and do wind sprints through the football field to beat; something I couldn’t practice on the piano for 5 hours a day to make my untrained fingers play Chopin. Something defiance had no effect on. No, I was defeated. Emasculated and buried alive, yet fed the exact amount of oxygen to stay alive in a quadriplegic state
. “Tomorrow is another day” . . . “Keep your chin up” . . . and “It’s half full,” had no application here. I felt bound and gagged and forced to drink a bottle of gorgeous, beautiful, smiling and happy, poisoned, milk that would slowly kill me……………or so I thought….
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