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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 12, 2006


You're Not Me!

“You’re not meee…you’re not meee,” says Adam in a sort of boyish voice, with a staccato emphasis on not, and a raspy, melodic, somewhat forceful, me.

I chuckle at his wisdom. “That’s right Adam -- I’m not you!” I’m not sure where he got this phrase – I certainly don’t use it. It sort of reminds me of my step-daughter’s four-year-old willfulness when she said, “You’re not the boss of me!” Is this Adam’s version of self-assertion? Self-definition? Self-awareness?

Sometimes we think our autistic kids adopt phrases and don’t quite know the meaning of them – at least not immediately. This might be the case, but he always has a sense as to where those phrases should go.

“Adam come here.”

“You’re not meee.”

“Adam, it’s time to brush your teeth.”

“You’re not meeee.”

It baffles me. He doesn’t look at me intentionally as he says it – not like my step-daughter Maddie used to, with crossed eyes, and hands on her hips, just short a stuck-out tongue. Her posture hollared, “Defiance!” Instead, Adam just says it automatically. It sounds more rote. But I can’t assume it has no meaning. No, not my willful little guy. He does share some of the same genes as his half-sister, after all.

After I brush his teeth, I turn on a video before bed that is visually stimulating. I haven’t put this one on for a while now – computer generated dancing shapes to Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusic. His hands go above his head as he makes a type of pirouette. His feet are moving quickly – rat a tat tat – to the music and he does a little turn. His cherub cheeks are jiggling with each step.

“Hey Adam, you’re dancing!” I say delightedly.

“You’re not meee,” he exclaims.


Blogger Joseph said...

Maybe he heard it in a TV show? That's where my son seems to pick up some things he says out of context.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like when kids are "allowed" to say phrases and not corrected. My son uses phrases from TV shows - except now he often uses them so appropriately that no one knows where it came from. Sometimes he still says things that don't quite appear to jibe but I think he might be conveying the emotion he saw (or interpreted)when the phrase was said (like if it was off a video). I use lots of little bits of phrases too but wasn't aware that was odd until after my son was diagnosed with HFA. It seems natural to keep a repetoire of "word clips" to use when appropriate. I also think it may actually interfere with the child's language development when they are prohibited from doing this.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous kyra said...

i, too, look at all these things as meaningful. after all, adam clearly is communicating something!! i always think of Pinter plays and how nearly EVERTHING meaningful was not expressed in the words spoken.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Natalia said...

somehow this makes me think of some of my favorite Bob Dylan songs where he takes popculture phrases and combines them surreally and poetically and subversively.

10:05 AM  

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