I don’t usually cry over viral videos, but this one got me:
Maybe it was the motivational lyrics to “Firework” paired with this girl’s struggle with autism. Maybe it was the parents saying they had basically given up all their dreams for their daughter when she was diagnosed with autism at age 2.
Whatever it was, I found myself watching misty eyed as this girl belted out her favorite song with idol Katy Perry.
I was on a feel-good, kumbaya high until I turned to the comment portions of some articles. I was surprised to see that some responders were irked by the video (though most were crying like I was). They said they also had children with autism and were tired of seeing videos and reports of children with autism who also had genius abilities. Others said it’s too bad that children with autism have to have some special talent to get any media attention for the disorder.
The comments kind of killed my feel-good buzz. But they also started me thinking about how we often are shown videos and news reports of children with autism that do amazing things. That must be difficult for parents of children who have autism but don’t also have a photographic memory or uncanny ability to sing on key. They won’t sing on stage one day, or they may never even talk.
I’m torn on this because I think those amazing kids should be showcased. Why should their talents be hidden because not everyone on the autism spectrum has them?
I think the central issue here is that the same standards don’t and shouldn’t apply to everyone. Maybe this young girl singing with Katy Perry is amazing for her. But another child simply making eye contact and smiling at her father may be a firework moment for that family. One is not better or more amazing than another.
One of the best parts of this video for me is when the father says he realized that he didn’t have to put limits on his daughter. Her autism wasn’t the dream-killer diagnosis he thought it was. His dreams for his daughter were different, but they weren’t dead.
And to me, that’s the key. It’s not about who is more talented or more autistic or more “normal,” but about each child becoming the absolute happiest and most successful person he or she can be.
What was your response to this video? If autism has touched your family, how do you push your children to be their personal best?