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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Funny. I'm struck down with pneumonia and I finally open the blog I've been thinking of for a while. I am a mother of a three year old boy with autism. His name is Adam. Since nineteen months, he has worked with therapists to help him play, communicate, socialize, understand how to do things that the rest of us found easier at his age. What I've come to realize over the past year and a bit is that Adam is not the aberration that the behavioural analysts used to try and make me believe (and boy they tried hard), but a wonderous addition to the world around him.

Okay, you might think only a starry-eyed mother could say that. I figure, from the many down-and-out moms I meet who also have children with autism, I need to speak like that because simply, I believe it. In fact, I find it really depressing looking at the other blogs out there on autism -- parents who believe their children are broken in some way. Words are permeating our consciousness and shaping our behaviour -- words like disabled, disorder, cure and epidemic -- words that as a parent, I have found at first scarry and later, scandalous and unjust to the thousands of people who are autistic.

I surely have had confrontations with teachers who know nothing about autism, mother's in school hallways who ask "is your kid normal, or is he special needs?" We have always had a need in society to discriminate, at the peril of hurting others. As Adam's mother, it's my job to be his advocate. First, I must talk about that word N-O-R-M-A-L. A strange word. I hear people use it in so many contexts, and it seems to haunt us --a lingering apparation in our minds that keeps us from doing many things for fear we may not appear normal. The word is strange and ineffable because there is no "normal." There is only difference. Yet we spend most of our lives anguishing to be like others.

Luckily, there are more teachers that are realizing the unique learning styles of many children, including those with autism. Not everyone is as unaware as those mothers in the hallway who believe they are harmless.

I'm stuck in my bed and I hear my little boy call my name "mum, mum, mum," the m's melding into one another. He wants to see me. He comes now with a big smile on his face, climbing up the bed. I pause. He wants to be on my body but I feel like I'm about to vomit. It pains me to ask my mother to pull him off. I ask him to be gentle, this little happy cherub, the simple happiness of being around mommy.


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