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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

Monday, June 11, 2007


A Nice Transition

We have found a school that respects Adam. He is self-motivated, interested in what others do. He cannot talk to his peers yet, but he is respected by them. They say hello Adam in the morning, and talk to him normally. His teacher noticed today that Adam was interested in a math activity using beads. She said "Adam, it looks like you are interested in this so let me show you." She showed him how to do the activity, but today, Adam was interested in the materials. She noticed this and allowed him to explore and then simplified the activity so he had a starting point. She did not say that Adam was doing it "wrong" or that it had to be done her way. She was guiding him in what he wanted to do himself. Adam, since he began this school in February, is eating foods I've never seen him eat at home -- carrots and cucumbers being two of them. He watches his friends and wants to try too.

Before Adam went into class, he was a little upset today. We sat on the stair and I held his hand without saying anything, hoping that my calm would calm him. It did. I did not push him into class. I did not escape the situation thinking that I had to toughen him up by pushing him into class. I waited to see what he wanted to do. Five minutes later, he got up and walked into his classroom and proceeded to have, apparently, a great day.

I tell this little story of our morning because Adam's shadow and I were remembering the day when Adam was only twenty months old: she came from an ABA background and we also had a verbal behaviour goal of 80 mands a day. She with-held reinforcers like temptations -- "the promise" as it is known in ABA-speak. I look back at video footage of some of these sessions and cringe at myself, my husband and everyone who was so patronizing and demanding. As I watch Adam paint with a therapist, he is talking, saying some words I can now understand, imitating, and doing things really well. But back then, we didn't think it was good enough at all and we pressured him for more. We thought that he had to do things a certain way. He was just a baby.

Our shadow for Adam has been with us for nearly four years now. She says she has learned so much along the way. I was reflecting this past weekend at how she and Adam really understand one another, and how he trusts her. They are like real buddies.

I do have some regrets but it was not that I did not do enough to ameliorate his autism -- the regret I have is that I listened to too many other voices and ignored the child who was in front of me, doing beautiful things that I just did not recognize because he was not "like other children."

It's a nice transition, this ability to SEE what's in front of us, not lost in the sea of opinion.


Blogger kristina said...

Looking forward to hearing more about Adam's school days!

I often wonder why it is so hard for us to see---really, just to see----the child in front of us and to go from there.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's hard to see the child in front of us at times because we are just afraid. If someone could tell us that "it will all be okay" then I think we could relax and go with the flow. That's really hard to do when you have a 2 year old who is non-verbal and a bunch of professionals acting like your life and his life are doomed.

Now that my son is 6 (and very verbal, I might add, just did it all at his own pace), I know for sure, deep down in my heart that IT IS OKAY. It just took me a while to get where I needed to be -- to be a better parent to Pete.

I'm so grateful I can appreciate it all now. Thanks for reminding me, and for the beautiful post.

Karen in CA

4:57 PM  
Blogger mcewen said...

Looks like we're all the same page. I blame the bifocals myself - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Beautiful blog Estee. I am so glad Adam is doing well in his school and that they are working with him and not pushing him. Now this blog shows the true Joy Of Autism.



7:41 PM  
Blogger Niksmom said...

Thanks for the beautiful post and timely reminder. I am definitely at th eplace described by anonymous...except Nik is 3.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Crash Test Mommy said...

What a beautiful story.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Vicky said...

Hello Estee,

I have only read a little bit of your blog and for some reason I just assumed that your child was older. Perhaps it is your style of writing that made me think "this woman has the wisdom of some who has been an autistics mom for a long time...
Anyway I am so glad things are working well for your son and you school wise.
It is not always a easy route getting through the maze of education but when things go good for once we can bask in that comfortable place.
My son is 15 and we didn't do any intervention with him to speak of until he was 5. I didn't know he was on the spectrum until he was 4 and 1/2. He went from being echolalic at five to speaking sentences and basic interaction between the ages of 6 and 7...
Of course he is fully verbal now and always a joy to me :) But he was a joy to me always.
Again it is good to meet you.. I hope you have many happy days with your son.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous -Brian- said...

Quoting Estee:

"Our shadow for Adam has been with us for nearly four years now. She says she has learned so much along the way. I was reflecting this past weekend at how she and Adam really understand one another, and how he trusts her...."

That shows how experience is the best teacher of all.

It's not the lecture, the opinion, the treatise, the theory, or the debate that counts, but the in-depth person-to-person experience that provides far more than any other form of education (including a doctorate from a university).

At the same time, this experience cannot be "condensed" into a package for others; the others can only take the time to get the fulfilment themselves, in their own in-depth person-to-person experience. As many say, words do not suffice when it comes to that moment of acknowledgement, of that feeling of joy in human living, without anything to block the view...

7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian should write his own blog.
He speaks from experience and his thoughts flow so naturally and make so much sense.

3:14 PM  

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