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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, January 03, 2006

We have begun potty training -- seriously this time. Before the holidays, I was designating a half hour -- 5 minutes off, 2 minutes on. I have written "I need to go potty" on a few index cards and have deposited them around the house. As part of the training, I take Adam to the card first, in hopes that this will one day help him articulate it. He is finally anticipating his pee now, holding his crotch, holding it in. He never did this before and I think it is in part because of the training. We can't necessarily wait for our kids to be "ready," because there are gaps. We have to train and teach things systematically first and then the concepts come together. Now that this has happened, holding his pee that is, we can begin more rigorous training. He is holding it in now though -- either insecurity or a control issue -- I'll let you know. Just like weaning, all of this requires a parent's energy and readiness as well. I am ready -- for kicking or screaming if need be. He is whining a bit, none of that aggressive stuff. Either it is sheer luck or my perserverence -- I won't take no guff, so to speak. He's going to transition, he's going to eat all kinds of foods, he's going to use his fork, and he's going to use the toilet dag nam it! And guess what? He does. Without much fuss too. Day in and day out, no matter how long it takes, practise, practise and more practise. It doesn't mean that I'm neither flexible nor empathetic. I certainly am!! But my dad taught me this perserverence and I reiterate the same thing to Adam that my father said to me all the time: "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again." Yes, it's tiring, yes, sometimes it breaks my heart. But I think what has carried me through all this is the view to the future. If I don't do this now, then when? And the older Adam gets, the harder it will be.

It effects me -- I have to lose 10 or 15 pounds that all of this work has brought upon me. I struggle to find the time to do the work I need to run his program, to do what I love (writing and lately, awareness-raising about autism), and then to take care of myself. There are always projects I want to do. So as we all do every New Year, I am taking time to re-evaluate my goals and time commitments. Soon, I will have to submit a part of my manuscript weekly to an author/editor -- a self-inflicted task, really -- an attempt to keep my book on course.

I received an email from a reader today -- indicating that it seems that Adam is high-funcioning. I've been thinking a lot about high-functioning versus low-functioning and how it's all rather arbitrary. We seem to take the view that lower-functioning people with autism have more cognitive challenges and are, in large part, non verbal. Yet, I've seem many "low-functioning" people who have incredible insights. Jonathan Lerman is an example. And if one person who is like this indicates otherwise, then I MUST assume that all people can think this way. To think otherwise would be discriminatory. One person with autism may have the talents to express themselves and so we must assume that just because the other does not have the same talent, there is no sententiousness. Like you and I, an artist may have the ability to express in a way I can not but it doesn't mean that I don't feel, see, and interpret. Ergo, even these labels are problematic, another attempt to make one kind of autism a little more acceptable than the other kind. It's unfair to those with so-called "low-functioning autism" because if you think doors are closed for kids like my son, imagine all the more doors closing for these other kids.


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