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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, March 19, 2008


Notes On "Hell"

Adam wrote, which we displayed in yesterday's video "think hell forgets boy," which really intrigued my dad, who sent me a myriad of hell-ish definitions and references to Thomas Mann, Plato and Socrates (index in above illustration).

What Adam knows or understands of "hell" or what he has learned of it, is very interesting and inspired my father to think about Adam's way of thinking in new ways.

We find Adam reading dictionaries a lot. He might put it on the edge of his bed, stick his head right in, lean in with his hands while using his arms to jump up and down. Others might say he is not reading at all because he has to move a lot when he does so -- but he can do this for hours. People ask me, "how did he know that word?" -- as he seems to know many sophisticated ones. Maybe this is one explanation.

I imagine he reads and learns many new words, but he is also a really good listener, even though people think that autistic children are not paying at all attention, as they seem to shift their gaze out to some kind of oblivion. I think about all the times when I used the word "hell" to describe how other autistic people feel when they are sent into special ed classes (quotes I gleaned from some of Paula Kluth's books) where often, their intelligence is "underestimated," (another word that Adam has now used). Other words, he comes up with all on his own, and it surprises me how he thinks about them. Better beware of what we say in front of our children!

Since posting yesterday's video, I also realized that "monsters" are probably Elmo, Cookie Monster and Zoe from Sesame Street, and it occurred to me today as we watched them before leaving for school as they continued to chatter away. He absolutely LOVES them, but they ARE talkative! I imagine Adam may have been comparing the monsters to the children he knows. So maybe monsters are endearing little creatures after all.

Omaasc was likely an attempt at spelling "home and school." It takes a while to condition one's eye to a child's attempt at spelling something. As this is new, it is taking me a while to think in these terms. And that's it, isn't it -- it is the ability to condition ourselves and recognize the communication that is happening every day!

And for those who don't believe that autistic children can learn or understand phonics -- Adam reads HBO as ch-bo. Boy does autism research ever have to catch up!! Absolutely everything out there is just about wrong.

Yesterday, I chanced upon a Socrates quote, "hell is other people," which was the inspiration for my father's research (a lover of philosophy). While it might be true that other people may seem like "hell" to many of us some days, I must say, the amount of people who have embraced Adam's words, and are sending him emails, well, I tend to think that we just want to be more bonded than separated. Maybe autism isn't the "hell" the media (and some people) make it out to be, but rather, the hell of a lot of heaven that we are, right now anyway, too busy to recognize.


Blogger farmwifetwo said...

My youngest has mastered phonics for a year now and he's just 6 and his dx is farther up the scale than Adam's.

Yet his bro who's down at the "normal" end, didn't master phonics until the end of Gr 2.

Everyone learns at their own pace. EVERYONE.

I gave up long ago trying to second guess triggers, conversations, playing.... some (both boys) have become "normal", some not... sooner or later they explain it to me... then I feel foolish like I missed something important.

My eldest's fav book is the Ontario map book.


10:46 AM  
Blogger Camille said...

I thought that when he wrote "hell" that he meant "she'll". Like, "think that she'll forget the boy".

7:05 PM  
Blogger james said...

I dont agree with camille.
No one can do such a big mistake while writing such a serious matter.
That stuff was a real answer who think autistic children can do nothing,
keep up the good work,

1:15 AM  

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