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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, March 31, 2008

 

The Sixth Year (and moving on)

I have been blogging about autism and my muse Adam, since 2005. He is my inspiration in life. How a child so small give gifts so large, well, I am always amazed. I guess it's why we become, and are overwhelmed, to be parents.

Adam is turning six this year. For me, it's rather significant in the autism-stream, because six was to mark that turning point that the doctors told us about -- if he didn't talk by six, he would always be autistic, prognosis wouldn't be good...etc., etc. Six was the cut-off year for the ABA that we never ended up using. Six was the age you were supposed to be cured of autism so you could enter school. So, for many parents, that number 6 is ominous. Too many parents work and struggle to beat the clock. We drive ourselves (and our kids) nuts, losing precious time during those toddler years, because, hey, our toddler's are not "normal," and we are irresponsible if we do not change the course.

Even the strong of heart feel the pressure sometimes, and if we are confident enough as parents to NOT care what the medical profession proclaims about autism, we still know very well the struggles of being accepted and obtaining the best education possible for our children.

Well, six has now arrived. We were told by ABA advocates "he may be a cute little picsher now, but just you wait... that hand-flapping won't be so cute when he gets older." I know, I've been hard on you ABA folks. It's just that I think you've been very hard on our kids. Who the heck cares about hand-flapping when we should all care about having our kids included in our communities? I think we all have a much more important agenda to be working on.

Six is coming and going, and for many of you, it has come and gone. I have shown a few birthdays in the following video. Just like many of you, we have struggled with ideas, perhaps struggled more so in ignoring the fear and trying to let it go for Adam's sake. We worked so that not every toddler year was wasted with worry. Six is arriving on April 11. I may not be able to write for a while due to some other reasons which I won't go into now, so I thought just in case I couldn't write this blog post, I would write it today.

Happy birthday to my dearest dearest Adam -- my son, my "boo-boo-bear," and my reason for being (peshaw Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray Love -- my reason for being is my son AND I am educated and have traveled and lived abroad-- I read your book because my son said I was reading too many sad ones, and it did make me happy, by the way).

I think our little autistic people have so much to teach us. Adam is talking a little more now, he is typing and there is more to come. There is great life beyond the age of six and we've had some great years before it too.


19 Comments:

Blogger Casdok said...

Adam hope you have a brillient birthday!
Your right there is great life to come, they do teach us and inspire us so much.
A lovely touching post, brought a tear to my eye.

12:42 PM  
Blogger farmwifetwo said...

Those parenting magazines that say "your kid will be a failure if A to Z is not completed by age 3, 5, 6.." are soooo wrong.

Happy birthday to both of you. I've been "blogging" over at Trusera. Most of my posts are members-only and I saw you were a member over there.

Pssst... after the visit to the Child Psych... shall I write a book on how I cured my eldest's son's Autism... Yeah... right... It's posted...

12:59 PM  
Blogger Niksmom said...

Happy (early) Birthday, Adam!

A lovely tribute full of wisdom and insight I wish so many others shared.

1:11 PM  
Blogger jypsy said...

Happy Birthday Adam! The future is yours!

At 6 years old Alex had a 3 word spoken vocabulary.

Two months later he began to talk

10 years later, when he was 16.5 he graduated from high school, with honours and awards, (with those same peers who were at his 6th birthday party)

1:48 PM  
Blogger kristina said...

Happy happy birthday----every year has gotten better for us. New struggles and new challenges, and new growth and learning for all.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

Jypsy,

I have adored ALL your videos. It is a wonderful thing that you have done. I watched them when you first put them up. I hope everyone watches them so they can see that everything is possible.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Steve D said...

Happy Birthday, Adam!

4:11 PM  
Blogger kyra said...

happy birthday dear dear Adam!!! i wish i could see this video, Estee. but it says, 'no longer available' when i click.

oh poo. i don't need a video to celebrate your marvelous boy!

and by the way, i read EG's book and i felt the same way! it made me happy AND i know my reason for being is to be fluffy's mom.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

Kyra,

Try again. I checked and it's working on my end.

Thanks for the birthday wishes. I will pass them on to Adam! Can't wait for his birthday...it's all about trampolines.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous jparker624 said...

Gee it is a celebration for me as well because it has been many years now that I have treasured and reveled in your wonderful words of wisdom and advocacy. I wish you had been around when my son was young. He just turned 18 last week! And his hand flapping is still a beautiful sight to behold. I know how much it helps him and me. His hands speak volumes.
Happy Birthday Adam and Estee and thank you for the amazing advocacy work that you both do.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous leila said...

Hi Estee, thanks for sharing these beautiful images and your positive message. The "cutoff age" that I kept hearing was 7 years old, but in any case it's a lot of pressure and fear mongering for families everywhere.

And thank you Jipsy, it was amazing to see cute Alex at 6 and then at 16... It was like being able to see my own son in the future, it gave me goosebumps.

4:51 PM  
Blogger VAB said...

Happy Birthday, Adam!

Six is a cool age to be. I hope you have a wonderful year. I'm sure you will. Not many kids can already already like you do by your age, but I don't think you are growing up according to anyone's schedule but your own, which is the very best way to grow up.

5:54 PM  
Blogger mumkeepingsane said...

We've just celebrated birthday number six as well...and are moving foreward with great joy.

I try every day to ignore what the 'experts' said and focus on what Patrick is telling us.

Happy Happy Birthday Adam!

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Raising Country Kids said...

Six was a beautiful year for my Riley. He blossomed. He didn't pay attention to any "cut-off," I guess. He just went about the process of life. In the four years following six, he has continued to surprise us and delight us and frustrate us, just as our three "typical" kids have done. Blessings to you as you embark on Six. There are good things to come.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Jay & Jody said...

It looks as if everything is possible!
Thanks for sharing the video. Happy birthday, Adam!! You're one lucky little boy!

12:15 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Happy Birthday Adam- I hope that it's a wonderful one.

And 6 isn't a cutoff for anything, although that's what we were told as well. But every year my kids keep progressing...and they only get more wonderful the older they get!

5:24 AM  
Blogger Navi said...

It seems Canada is harder on parents of kids with Autism than the US is. I've mostly got, we need to get him in education asap. but... you don't need to bother doing more than the school is doing, we've got it under control.

He'll be 6 later this year.

And... yesterday, he danced on a table, and knocked over some magazines, my husband said 'tristan' in a cautionary voice (not mad, just cautionary) and tristan immediately got down and picked up the magazines, without any prompting besides his name. He was subsequently showered with praise and affection (he enjoys both). We've not done much teaching him to pick up after himself at home, but he took what he was learning at school and brought it home. we were amazed.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely - there is no age-limit on the ability to learn and grow!
Nicole Beurkens
www.horizonsautism.com

9:12 PM  
Blogger Jannalou said...

Happy birthday, Adam! :)

I recently learned that a boy I used to babysit a lot started talking last fall, just after I stopped looking after him (due to my living arrangements). He's eight and had been using a DynaMyte and PECS until then. Apparently his speech has just grown and grown. So anyone who says that there's a cutoff age for speaking is definitely wrong!

As for the learning thing, well, if it's impossible to learn after age six, why is that when children start grade one?

And that is all I have to say about that.

9:51 AM  

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