Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Estee on 04-08-2009

Adam is learning to cycle. It is this cycling in the outdoors that keeps us alive in a time of change and confusion. It is a forward motion, it is a challenge to overcome negative thinking, the past, the things we can’t change. My cycling has become a major part of my life this month, and it must be contagious because Adam keeps asking for his bicycle. I think this is something that is going to be something Adam and I will share.

Now that may seem unremarkable for many. Yet my son, who had such difficulty coordinating his body when he was younger, who could not propel forward with his legs, let alone steer at the same time, is now able to coordinate all of those remarkable steps we take so much for granted. I can see us riding into our future together — mom and this little boy who will soon become a man before I know it. I know he will take some paths I will never take. I know one day I will have to let him move beyond me, even though I will not be far behind. But for now, I am here to help him learn and soon we will ride side by side.

Adam is still on his training wheels and I am training on hills. Yesterday, I accomplished a 35 kilometer ride on a heavy bike (I have to get a road bike). I worked twice as hard and I dug deep.

As I did, I noticed my thoughts. When I think about what’s been “done to” me, I become a victim. It’s so incredibly debilitating. But when I refuse to be a victim, I can ride like the wind. Climbing up hills on a bike not suited to them, I had to push extremely hard and it would have been easier to give up. As I rose to the crest of the hill, all my negative thoughts washed away. Divorce or diagnosis — no matter what “D” you are facing (I like to call them the “D’s” — divorce, disability, diagnosis, disease, death, depression…), we cannot succumb to victimhood. We have to instead “dig down deep,” and face the demons which only we create in our minds. Demons are negative thoughts. They are always there, wanting to take over and render us zombies.

Divorce is so much like getting a diagnosis of autism with your child.  Your world is shaken to the core; all your beliefs our challenged; you struggle with your own identity and future in the midst of an uncertain one. I can’t think of any blessing greater, actually, than being challenged to the core like this. No, it’s not fun, but I have to make it so now after ten months of grieving. It’s much easier to glide through life and it is also a blessing to have a strong relationship. But my thinking of hard times as a blessing is the way I can turn things around, for what becomes “real” is manifested by our thoughts. These are the choices that can turn our lives into something vibrant, or something that dies before its time.

So today, I will run and tomorrow I will cycle again. This, I hope I’ve conveyed, is about more than aesthetics. As a mother to Adam, I think about our future, my vibrancy, for the sake of not only myself, but for him and for others around me. I’ve lived the past seven years climbing steep hills of various kinds. I’ve glided down some great hills too, as my reward. I think that for all parents of extraordinary children, we can tend to get wrapped up in the politics, the struggle for acquiring access and services, or for some parents, the (in my opinion) negative struggle of trying to change the autistic child to become “normal.” Sometimes, we need to focus on our own thoughts and challenge our own thinking in order to serve better.

They say one can always become fitter. And so it goes also with the mind.


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (, and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.