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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, August 06, 2007


Lazy Days for Language

Adam is back with his parents from his trip to Alaska. We visited Glacier Bay and College Fjiords and more. We saw Humpback and Orca Whales jump out of the water, bald eagles perched atop of trees watching us carefully, sea otters trailing sea paths, their heads occasionally poking out of the water. Glaciers plunged large chunks of ice into the jade colour sea, pieces scattering the water landscape so that Al Gore's global warming theories seemed more real than ever. We travelled on the goldrush tram across the treacherous sides of moutains -- railway builders said a railroad could never be built there. The impossible made possible only by someone who knew railroad construction and the terrain.

Adam was a trooper and I am told by Henry that even on the worst travelling day at the end of our Alaskan cruise -- a twelve hour jaunt that began at five in the morning after a bad night's sleep, Adam was still better than the rest of his other kids. Adam ate in the dining room, he played in the play room with other children, he ate well and as I always predict now in these wonderful lazy days of summer that I now have began to treasure rather than fret (that no work is being done), he began to talk a whole lot more. He said things like, "I'm at the airport," when we were waiting in line to check in our luggage. He said "go away!" when he was frustrated with me on the airplane. He said, "I like this one," as clear as day when his friend B, (we were travelling with another family), handed him one of those balls that expand and contract. He demanded "breakfast" upon waking and specific foods. He yelled "I want to go!" at the top of his lungs on that twelve hour travel day near the end of our jaunt.

Now, anyone who doesn't know Adam would have thought him to be a typical four or five-year-old, and maybe would be a little puzzled when he didn't answer their questions quickly enough. Even though I don't want anyone to think that talking is the be-all and end-all for disabled kids, I must say that it is exciting for me to experience. It would be just as exciting to see my child use sign language, use a device -- anything that would deliberately communicate with me. In fact, when Adam grabs my hand and leads me to what he wants when he can't find the words, it is just as exciting. He is a strong-willed little boy who wants control over his life. He is growing up. If I do too much for him now, he gets ticked off with me. He is at the age when he wants to try many things on his own, and little enough to want to come to mommy when he really wants me to take care of him.

So today I am just a mom who is once again beaming with pride at her son. I am proud that he tries so hard, that he is a real trooper when he travels -- enduring four hour tours without complaint now busily occupying himself with games when he becomes bored.

There was a day when everyone said this wouldn't really happen -- that autistic people always melt down, have real trouble with transitions, who, if they didn't talk by three, would never talk at all, and who, well, just wouldn't be able to cope or understand the world around them. It's not to say that it doesn't happen for many autistic people. When travelling with Adam, I don't see the disparity, just a few little differences as he grows. I also think that disparity is in the eyes of the beholder. I don't know what the future will hold, and it's no point worrying too much about it. The joy we find is letting the days unfold, watching Adam develop and become the person he is meant to be, and taking time out of the everyday to see that language develops when our kids are allowed to relax.


Blogger Camille said...

I like this one. :-)

2:26 PM  
Anonymous farmwifetwo said...

We spent 3 days this weekend in Ottawa.. May 2006 just before I got rid of him, the male T said "if you don't do exactly as we tell you, he will fail".

One day later this mth... will come a letter saying they are gone forever.

Love proving them wrong. Mine had a wonderful trip too.


3:36 PM  
Blogger kristina said...

A reminder for the rest of us (parents....) to relax about all this, too.

Glad you had a fine trip.

1:48 AM  

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