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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

Friday, June 20, 2008

 

He Did It!

"We Jews, we dance," said Elie Wiesel in a speech he gave in Toronto just over a year ago now. I had the honour and privilege of meeting him in person. He was talking about how exactly BECAUSE of tough times, is reason to celebrate good ones. This is a philosophy I don't take for granted. Adam has just graduated from Senior Kindergarten and will be going into Grade One in September.

"It has been a tremendous joy to work with Adam this term, and to be a part of his progress. Adam has exploded into independence...the greatest achievements Adam has seen in language this term have been in the area of self-expression. The work he is doing in and out of the classroom with his device has built his confidence and allowed him a very important and impactful release," says his report card. Adam goes to an inclusive school -- not special ed, not an autism school, not a contained classroom or a partially integrated setting. Adam is also "classically" autistic.

The tough times for us seem to have been society's view of Adam, and schools adopting that exclusive, medical perspective of autism. Adam's challenges came from early pre-schools that didn't understand him and thought he had to develop just like other children. That was frustrating and emotionally debilitating for us all. Yet, we kept seeking loftier goals. We never believed in "NORMAL," and resisted many temptations to work "on" Adam to make him such. It never would have happened anyway. When we tried (in our early intervention days), Adam cried a lot.

In his book Enforcing Normalcy, Lennard Davis said, "before the early-to-mid nineteenth-century, Western society lacked a concept of normalcy. Indeed the word normal appeared in English only about 150 years ago, and in French fifty years before that. Before the rise of the concept of normalcy, there appears not to have been a concept of the normal; instead the regnant paradigm was once revolving around the word ideal. If people have a concept of the ideal, then all human beings fall far below that standard and so exist in varying degrees of imperfection. The key point is that in a culture of the ideal, physical imperfections are seen as not as absolute but part of a descending continuum from top to bottom. No one, for example, can have an ideal body, and therefore no one has to have an ideal body..." (pp. 100-101)

And so, we dance, we celebrate Adam's being, his achievements. We congratulate everyone who has assisted us in enabling him and his own personal success. I cannot imagine the world without Adam as he is. Our world has oversimplified the state of being human and to support this, I would like to direct you now to listen to Harriet McBryde Johnson who talks about disability and the notion of "the cure." Harriet McBryde Johnson brought a disability rights perspective to bear on issues raised by the Museum's Deadly Medicine exhibition. This podcast comes from United States Memorial Holocaust Museum.

Reference:

Brueggemann, Brenda Jo, Garland-Thompsan, Rosemarie, Snyder, Sharon L., Disability Studies, Enabling the Humanities, New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2002.

8 Comments:

Blogger Niksmom said...

Congratulations to Adam!

2:48 PM  
Blogger kristina said...

way to go, Adam!

4:40 PM  
Blogger Club 166 said...

Great post!

Thanks for the link to Johnson's podcast. I just finished listening to it. It's sad to think that she's gone, but I celebrate her contributions.

I hope you are dancing tonight.

Joe

12:25 AM  
Blogger farmwifetwo said...

Job well done.

I had the most USELESS, unproductive, waste of time, IEP meeting yesterday. Luckily I have 2 teachers (I requested them, and got the same EA for the little one again) who will simply teach the boys.... the VP.... UGH!!!!

S.

9:56 AM  
Blogger ginawynn: said...

Congratulations to you, and especially to Adam on this wonderful occasion. 14 years ago my son - also autistic - celebrated a similar milestone. Yesterday, he graduated from high school, with honors.

Here's to accomplishments, both big and small.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Phil Schwarz said...

High 5's and mazel-tov to Adam!

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Becky said...

Congrats, Adam!

I really love your approach to helping your son. My daughter, Nova, is three and was diagnosed in February. I will be visiting you often--thanks for the hope and information.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Ettina said...

Just because they didn't use the word normal didn't mean they didn't have the concept many people now use that word for.

4:12 PM  

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