Monday, November 18, 2013

This is Autism (for me)

 Written by williaful

Originally published at a willful woman…

Awesome Avatar
An autism awareness avatar, designed by my son.

We interrupt our irregularly scheduled romance novel conversation to participate in a Flashblog. This is a response to a recent “Autism Speaks” fear-mongering money grab declaration that autism is an overwhelming tragedy which inevitably leads to broken parents and destroyed lives.

The experience of autism is actually very different for each family — and for each autistic person. And no, it’s not all unicorns farting rainbows for anyone, and as with any disability, support and accommodations are vital. But denying the personhood of autistic people to get money for an organization with dubious goals doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. And we want to share what autism looks like in our world.

This is autism: suddenly noticing a round hole in my front door, and realizing it’s because my 2 year old dismantled the deadbolt.

This is autism: a toddler who, for a short time, insisted we sing all his bedtime books to him. Even the non-rhyming ones.

This is autism: having a son who thinks that prejudice against people because of their sexual orientation is the stupidest thing he ever heard of.

This is autism: Video games programmed using PowerPoint.

This is autism: a child who can be trusted to buckle his own seatbelt, take his medication, and sensibly parcel out his Halloween candy.

This is autism: being able to show my child pictures of cute t-shirts or toys on the internet without worrying that he’ll whine for me to buy them.

This is autism: a new Vi Hart video is cause for celebration.

Like many autistic children, my son is fond of schedules. And can be a little obsessive.

This is autism: The invention of Serious Kid, who would walk into the room at random moments and announce, “Hi, I’m Serious Kid. Always wear a helmet whenever you ride a bike,” or, “Hi, I’m Serious Kid. Brush your teeth carefully after meals.”

This is autism: having a son in middle school who bursts into smiles when he sees me, hugs me constantly, makes up little songs about how much he loves me, and never forgets to find me for a goodnight kiss before going to bed.

This is autism: relishing every small movement my son makes towards independence and taking care of himself.

This is autism: part of who my son is. He wasn’t “stolen” from me.  He’s exactly who he’s supposed to be.  And because he’s a person with his own identity, I checked with him first before posting this.
And because of the worldview Autism Speaks is helping to perpetuate, this is also autism: seeing another autistic boy trying to show a toy to his mom, who stops him because he’s spinning it. A passing troll commenting on my blog to call my son a retard.

And taking my young son on an outing to Toys R Us, and discovering that they’re running a campaign to get money for Autism Speaks, with “Autism – Solve the Puzzle” posters up everywhere. Seeing my son turn very quiet. He didn’t yet have the ability to express how that made him feel, but here’s a newsflash for Autism Speaks and Toys R Us: some autistic kids can read.


And even enjoy Internet slang.

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