Terminal Fates

Filed Under (Activism, Advocacy, Discrimination, Politics) by Estee on 29-11-2010

“You can’t say your child is great,” I was told when looking into services for Adam. As part of our growing process, we have to know what is available to us. I was discussing how Adam has many challenges and is also:

-likes to be social but has difficulty at times…

“He sounds great,” interrupted the woman I was speaking to on the telephone who had asked me what Adam was like. “Just so you know, I have a child with Down’s syndrome. It’s a drag to have to paint the worst scenario, but in order to get services, you just have to.”

Why subjugate our wonderful children, young and old, to terminal fates? You remember — the ones “worse than cancer.” Why must we have to paint a dimsal picture, or view people with disabilities as something horrible and devastating to us and society? This is the very reason why we’ve had such misrepresentation that hurts autistic people, and why parents are literally forced to represent ourselves as desperate, our children as hopeless without certain types of services. People with challenges have a right to support. At the same time, we have a right to love and cherish our children and believe in them. We have a right to think our children our terrific, great, a joy, even. It’s not sugar coating anything (back in the day, I was accused of this). My child needs lots of support. I do not wish to embellish anything. I simply want to tell people what he needs as his inherent right. As it is, the services and supports for autistic people here in Ontario are neither diverse nor robust.

If there is a thing called fate, I think it’s terminal for all of us, isn’t it? I sure wouldn’t call autism a fate worse than cancer and to be honest, I find it really hard to speak about my son in a way that I find demeaning to him. There are facts, and there are exaggerations. We all want to make the best of the lives we have, and so we should — with the support we need, and the love in our hearts that we just need to express.


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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 (www.taaproject.com), 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.