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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

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Halloween Update

Someone suggested that Halloween is an attempt to normalize an autistic child. I agree and don't agree. If you expect your child to be something they don't want to be, then obviously that isn't right. If the expectation is to enjoy each other, to do one's own version of a something, to make "our own Halloween" -- an adapted version, and the child seems to enjoy it, (and as parents and educators we have to constantly evaluate our interpretations of what we even think our children enjoy because it can also be an imposed state), then we can use the opportunity to build an experience. It can be a valuable learning experience for everyone.

Adam enjoyed painting faces on pumpkins -- especially the triangle eyes. He particularly enjoyed these mini pumpkins on sticks and we painted a face on one that he's been carrying around for three days now. He loved his alphabet costume (the alphabet part anyway) as he tried to pluck the letters off his shirt. He enjoyed a couple of little kids coming to our door, and he greeted them with a big smile. He certainly loved his lollipop and then a stroll down the street to watch the rotating ghosts in blown up plastic pumpkins and strobe lights at some of the houses.

It was our Halloween and if Adam didn't want to participate at all, that would be fine. I always think a little sharing is what's important here -- a non autistic mom and her autistic son sharing, compromising. It's what Morton Ann Gernsbacher calls "Reciprocity." He comes out for a walk to view the lights, and I enjoy what he takes in, watch his face and try to learn from him as well. It was an opportunity to do something together.

I don't need him to go door to door for candy. It's just not the point. The point was how we shared the sewing of the letters on his shirt, how we called it a costume, and that he learned about this silly night called Halloween when kids get candy. I like to expose Adam to lots of things. He decides in the end what he likes and doesn't like. It is not normalization. It is just sharing, learning and compromising. The best part for us was not the actual eve, but the night before, when we made something together.


Anonymous leila said...

This is perfect.

Even before I knew my son was autistic, I learned to adjust my expectations and accept that he had a different way to enjoy holidays and other events. He HAS FUN no matter where we go, it's just that he notices/feels/takes pleasure from things that are not the same as other kids his age.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

This is how it should be, not just for autistic kids, but for all kids. How many parents stress out about the whole thing and miss that it's not important in and of itself - it's sharing, learning, and experiencing things together. Beautiful. I think you guys had the perfect Halloween.

2:20 PM  

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