I love my severely autistic, low functioning son Conor very much. I care for him 24/7 and have done so during his nearly 16 years. I speak honestly about his many deficits and challenges including his intellectual disability, his self injurious behavior,and his inability to function independently in daily life. But none of those things mean that I do not recognize his intrinsic value as a human being. That ludicrous argument is contradicted by the care I have given, and the commitment I have made to him, every day of his nearly 16 years. There is nothing exceptional about what I have just said. Parents almost uniformly make sacrifices every day for their autistic children, every day. I am just one of many, many thousands of parents who make those same commitments to our autistic children.
I also recognize the contributions to my life that my autistic son makes every day of his life. He is without any reservation a great joy in my life. Where I differ from some parents is that I do not believe that the joy my son brings to my life, unlike his very serious challenges, arises from his Autistic Disorder (his actual diagnosis). My son brings me joy on his own terms because of who he is as an individual. Those who would say that his smiling face, as shown on this site, is a feature of his autism rather than a feature of his own distinct personality as Conor Doherty do not know him. I do. And I love my time with him; especially our almost daily walks.
The pictures that follow were taken this morning. It is routine for Conor and Dad to go for trail walks, except when winter has arrived with full snow packed force. This morning Conor was in Run, Jump, Fly mode and had to wait several times for Dad to catch up. I enjoyed the walk. I enjoyed the outdoors. I enjoyed the Conor advantage.