I see a lot of it around the Internet, people fawning over kids with disabilities because they are disabled. Because they don't know what else to say, since clearly a disabled child has nothing much to offer. That because these kids face challenges in life, the only things that can ever be said are over-the-top, candy-coated, and superficial. As though nothing deeper exists beneath the surface. Under that expertly posed, or not, cute kid photo. Descriptions of their hi-jinks the child never meant to be funny, but is used that way, anyhow. It's condescending. It makes these kids into nothing more than a marketing ploy for a blog post. Click-bait.
That's not to say our kids aren't fabulously beautiful creatures, but I would never want either of mine to be viewed as only that. I don't want my kids to be "awesome" when they do the most mundane things. That means expectations are low, and that's not OK. I don't want people patronizing my children by calling them geniuses, or special, or amazing, when they do something any other kid their age does. Being autistic doesn't mean they are incapable of even the simplest things. It doesn't mean they need to be fawned over like babies. Besides it being disingenuous, it teaches them that no matter what they do, they're perfect little people who can do no wrong. That the world revolves around them. That they should expect high praise every time they accomplish even the most trivial task, or have an independent thought. Sure, progress is always great, and celebrating new achievements is not a bad thing, but there is such a thing as going overboard. It's about respect. Presuming they know everything that is said, and goes on, around them.
I want more for my kids. I want them to be seen as whole people. As capable people. As individuals who will accomplish great things in life, surprising no one. Their paths might be a bit different, but they should be treated the same as their peers, with an attitude of "I knew you could do it!", and not,"Omigosh, you actually did it???"
My kids are awesome, because they are pretty cool people. Not because they are autistic and so they have to be, because it's a nice thing to say. Or because the bar is set so low, anything they do is a miracle. That's the opposite of how they should be viewed. I want them to grow up knowing they have to work hard, like anyone else. That they can achieve their goals. I want the accolades they receive to be well deserved because of their abilities, not their disability. Sure, each kid is different, and each child takes their own, unique path, but how we treat them along their journey is important. Treating them like you would anyone else, as much as possible, is the best gift you can give.