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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

Saturday, September 16, 2006

 

A law cannot guarantee what a culture will not give

That quote in the title is from Make Them Go Away: Clint Eastwood, Christopher Reeve and the Case Against Disability Rights. I often wonder if legislation is just a prelude to a forced change in the direction society needs to think about the disabled. But it is true that the law can only take us so far, and if society won't give our children equal access, it will always be difficult for our children.

Adam did his first Sportball program in a loud, echoic gym today. At first, he seemed a little frightened of the noise. His shadow let him run around a little, until he felt comfortable in the setting. We want him to enjoy Sportball, not find it unpleasant. He ran into her arms and began laughing. He watched his peers. He felt the materials. Then, he picked up the hockey stick and made a score.

The coach said he is going to call me tonight. I have to say that this is the only thing that puts a pit in my stomach -- when a teacher or coach says they have to "call" me. I'm hoping that my paranoia is unfounded. I hope he won't tell me to take Adam out of his program.

You see, Adam needs to learn this way until he becomes comfortable in this new and loud environment. He needs to be able to adjust to his setting, run around a bit, get used to things, observe his peers, and then eventually, he can do it. He was the only kid to sit in the coaches' lap at the end of the program today. One thing Adam has down pat: affection.

I want him to stay in that program. I could see he got used to it and that despite the bumpy beginning, enjoyed it in the end.

But the coach, or any teacher for that matter, may have his way of doing things that doesn't include Adam and kids like him. Rules might be too rigid. My joy is in Adam's success - because I understand that his success comes from a place where he has to work so much harder than others. But my sorrow lies always in other's non acceptance.

I heard that we have to earn joy in this world. It doesn't always land in our lap just like that. When it does, it is golden, like Adam. But mostly, joy is what we make of things. I will await the call, and do what we all have to do: advocate for Adam so that he is accepted in the program (if they are so willing and open-hearted), and empower his teachers with information about Adam's learning style and success today... Make the teacher proud!

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