The Best Birthday Gifts

Filed Under (Acceptance, Inspiration) by Estee on 21-03-2012

It’s my birthday in a few hours. Adam is happy because there will be cake. Tonight, I took Adam to the park. It has been exceptionally warm and summer-like here in Toronto and he seemed happy that I was yammering on about my birthday.

With the sun comes another realization of the gifts I receive everyday and that these that I’m about to describe is all I would ever want.

Adam of course is one of them. Before I go on with my list I have to say that every time I write, I’m trying so hard not to elicit pity. The challenges Adam and I face are the “regular” part of our lives. I make choices every day to stick with him, even if I’m feeling pitiful. By dawn, my head always clears if I’ve had a challenging day before. I work on my self, rather than trying to change Adam, to remember what I always have believed about his value, his sweet nature, his ability. I do it because like many autism parents and people with disabilities, there’s a lot of pressure out there to be normal in every way. We can feel so isolated some days, and I often do. Then, I’m determined not to let it beat me up; that it’s for Adam that I also keep writing, thinking, trying to change the educational and other opportunities for him.

Just before the clock turns twelve, I think of all the people who are the real gifts in my life. You have all been a part of my growth as Adam’s parent:

My own parents who are a phone call away; the relatives who reach out just to let me know they are there if I need them; my friends who offer to watch Adam or want to spend time with him and with whom I spend my time with enjoying life; my best friends who always pull me out for a coffee no matter how busy I am; my boyfriend who is patient and kind, who taught me about love, and who is so gentle with Adam; my overseas friends who I went to school with — it always feels like yesterday when we get the chance to be together; the people I’ve met on and offline who check in on Adam and I (it’s so great when we meet at conferences); the educators and clinicians who we’ve been with for years, and some of them new. You are patient with me and my plentiful emails, always willing to discuss things with me. My autistic friends, some who I see, and some who are farther away but who are always so supportive of Adam and I in our journey. I hope I offer you the same support; the other parents like me with whom I’m able to visit and laugh, lovingly, about ourselves in raising our autisitc children — respectful humour is an effective healer. I know I’m missing some in this list, but believe me, you are not taken for granted. You all mean so much. I am rich because of you. Happy Birthday to me… yee hee!


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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.