Friday, December 23, 2011

The Importance of Completing Growth

I recently found a book in the library called "Making Sense of Autistic Spectrum Disorders-Create the Brightest Future for Your Child" by Dr. James Coplan.

The name immediately rang a bell. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Coplan years ago.  He used to practice in the Syracuse area and later moved to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  Simply put, he is a developmental pediatrician who has a number of sub-specialties, and is uniquely qualified to work with children with ASD's - and their families.  When I met Dr. Coplan years ago, what impressed me the most was his compassion.

Sometimes, doctors with great knowledge can be cold, and that is the last thing a family who has a member with autism needs.

Now, years later, I found out more about the background of Dr. Coplan.  He has a younger sister with a developmental disability - in other words, he is a "sib" besides being a doctor.

He is a very accomplished blogger.  I met the Doctor before blogging existed so I don't know why that surprised me - but I had never attempted to find his work through the Internet.

But I really don't want to write about Dr. Coplan.  I want to write about his book.

While this 400 plus page book gave an extensive overview of many issues with children (and I highly recommend it to those with younger children).  Like so many of these books, they "fade out" when it comes to adulthood.  Usually that is disappointing.  But, since Dr. Coplan is a pediatrician, it is understandable.

But what Dr. Coplan said about adults with autism....well, it is so much what I feel, also.

Dr. Coplan explains that a child's "job" is to grow up and become independent. The drive to independence begins the day after birth. 

If an adult with a disability is kept at home, he or she never can complete their growth.

Dr. Coplan realizes such an individual might never be independent.  But there is a difference between living in a supported environment away from the parents (he did mention group homes, which many in the disability communities would rather go away, as an example) and staying at home.  And he was very emphatic about this:  the individual with the disability has to leave the home to complete the growing up process.

The parent who prevents the child from leaving is doing him or her a grave disservice, especially if there has to be a sudden change in living situation (such as the parent dying suddenly.)  He even gave an example of such an instance (a parent dying suddenly.) 

This is what I have been saying all along!!!!

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