Tania Melnyczuk
Diary

My Diary is my catch-all category for posts that don't fit neatly into one of the other categories.

The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling

Parody of an autism diagnosis

 

Hello, Mrs Duck. Please sit down. This may be a bit difficult for you to hear.

I’m afraid we can’t cure your son. He has Swan Syndrome. It’s genetic, and he will have it for the rest of his life.

Treatment can alleviate the symptoms. Research has shown that a special diet, and an adjusted water temperature for swimming, can reduce the anxiety and keep him from flapping so wildly. There are also good therapists who can help him with his vocal intonation and volume. Yes, I’m afraid it can cost quite a bit, but it’s never easy if you want the best for your child.

I know it must have been hard for you—and for him—to have constantly heard others teasing him, calling him an ugly duckling. At least now you know it wasn’t his fault, and it wasn’t because of how you raised him. He was born with the condition, and there was nothing you could have done about it.

Now that you know what the problem is, though, perhaps you could consider sending him to a special school for children with Swan Syndrome. The fees are not the same as for a regular school, but you pay for what you get, and these are highly trained teachers.

I can also see you’ve been feeling alone in this, with the other mother ducks criticising you for the way your child is. At least now, with this diagnosis, you can explain to them that it’s a disability. Here’s a pamphlet that describes the symptoms so that you can see that it really is a medically recognised disorder. The cause is not fully understood yet, but we do know a lot about which genes are responsible for the symptoms. I’ve also included the number of a support group run by mothers of children with Swan Syndrome.

Just to give you a bit of encouragement… I know it isn’t easy… the good news is that some children with Swan Syndrome grow up to find a place somewhere in normal duck society in spite of the obvious deficits. Of course it requires specialised behavioural therapy, because they lack the social instincts of normal ducks. But with time… who knows? Maybe he’ll be one of the lucky ones.

Oh, and don’t worry, you don’t have to pay all at once, I realise you spent a lot of money with Dr. Quack before you came to me. I’ll be seeing your little chap regularly now anyway, so we can always arrange a discount.