The Morning After Losing Adam

Filed Under (Acceptance, Parenting, Safety, Wandering) by Estee on 15-05-2011

As you read yesterday, I lost Adam for about 10 minutes. It seemed a lot longer. When I returned home for the day, I was feeling down. I thought, just when things seemed to be going so well…another challenge. Then, my ceiling leaked from the rain.

Ah well, I said to myself as I opened my eyes this morning. At least Adam had the sense to re-enter that church all by himself. At least there was no tragedy. At least my roof isn’t caving in. Someone is coming to look at it hopefully later today.

I think it’s good to let the down go through us — to hibernate after an event like this. But I also reached out. I contacted every team member, my friends. I was so surprised by the deluge of support. I realized, that even as I think I’m alone, a single mother, I am not. I learned this by not keeping yesterday’s event to myself. I realized that I cannot do everything by myself.

I am really grateful to my friends, family and Adam’s support team who are always there for us, and even you readers who take the time to lend your support by commenting here and on Facebook. For me, writing is a way to survive, to think, to overcome my challenges. I cannot let them fester. Other people manage other ways. I manage this way.

I spent many years learning how to build a strong team of support. I realize that network has been carefully woven and I’m in awe of the time it took. I hope to be able to write a piece how I was able to create this web of support, and the trials of putting it together.

When we are building teams for our children, we have to look at good fits. We have to feel good about who is working with our children. For myself, I could not hire people who treated Adam in a way I did not want him to be treated. It was simply an intuitive way of parenting him. Building a team later became supported by what I was reading and hearing about certain therapies and ways people with disabilities have been treated. I never realized it, but I have a distinctive parenting style. I appreciate sensitivity because it suits Adam’s needs. I love kindness. I adore when people realize he is a person full of potential, despite his challenges. As I built a team to support Adam, I realize I also built one to support me in my ability to parent him. I realize my limitations and my need for others to help, and how we work as a unit. I am his mother. I am suited to loving him well. Although I teach him as a parent would, I am not a great teacher. I reach Adam by being gentle, not impatient. His interest in music and art is nurtured by my interest and activity. I’m good at a few thing and not good in others. When I think Adam needs to learn something I cannot teach, I am happy to hand him over to those who can give him those other gifts.

I ended the evening yesterday talking to one of my best girlfriends. She has a typical daughter. She talked about how she lost her daughter at the cottage. So many parents have reached out and told me their tales of losing their children — typical and autistic. When I rethink everything, I realize that exploring is a rite of passage. Adam wants to be independent — the very trait we want our autistic children to learn. He wants to explore, hide, and thinks excitable voices are really funny. I wonder if we target the autistic child for wandering, like so many other challenges, and forget about how the typical child does the same things as our autistic children do. The age ranges may be different, but sooner or later, it happens. Sure, I’m nervous about this and will be on top of it as will his team. Yet there is a side of me that thinks — tragedy averted, of course — that he made his way back into the church. He wants to explore and do his own thing. He tried to make his own popcorn the other day and wrecked my microwave. I mean, how many parents have the same story of their homes being near destroyed by a clever, well-meaning child?

It’s time to support Adam again and make a new plan. We have to avoid danger and we have to support his need to explore and be independent now. I just have to learn to keep up.


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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.