Super Boy

Filed Under (Adam, Development) by Estee on 11-08-2009

I take a moment to talk about Adam, which I do so little of lately. He has been the inspiration for this blog and all my thinking and rethinking about autism.

He deserves a great deal of kudos for turning minds around. He goes to camp and he can make everyone laugh and smile. He comes home at the end of the day, and I am told that everyone loves him. His smile can brighten an entire room.  Often, I am given credit for this, but it takes two. He was born with the affable disposition. Yet, I do often wonder how, if I’d kept him behind those closed ABA doors (the style of ABA at the time of Adam’s early instruction), if he would have remained his true self.  It is a question I’m sure all parents ask themselves, and there is even a book out which follows children with various backgrounds to adulthood:

Fragile Success
Ten Autistic Children, Childhood to Adulthood, Second Edition
By Virginia Walker Sperry, M.A.

It seems like an interesting attempt at trying to create proof, to distill what makes an autistic person “successful” in life, yet success is also in how we measure it.

I, for one, have measures that seem more akin to a revolution that’s happening right now. My measure may be more along the lines of those who reconsider behavioural economics — a movement away from growth (the thinking that image and objects will make us happier) to the things we do and the way we think that make us happy.  Like all parents, I want Adam to be happy. I want him to learn. I want him to learn discipline without losing his joie de vivre. I want him to want things in life that will make him happy. So far, I think we’ve been successful. He has a natural wonder and curiousity. He still has difficulty with speaking, but he tries hard to string his words together. His drive often amazes me. I do not think the word failure is in our vocabulary.

I do not know if we can measure what makes autistic children become “successful” autistic adults. Like all of us, we are born with personality, to different families with different circumstances.  Adam reminds me of the happy-go-lucky young girl I was once. I’ve suffered my blows, but Adam continues to bring me out of any depths that may tempt me to wallow. He needs me. He thrives on my happiness. For now I am taking heed of the oxygen-mask analogy. I’m taking good care (finally) of myself. I am losing the weight of the world that I chose to once carry. I am lightening up in every sense.

Here is Adam today as “Super Boy,” going to camp.

Adam, you are indeed super. You are my hero.



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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.