The First Ten Years

Filed Under (Acceptance, Adam) by Estee on 11-04-2012

It was like yesterday. I went into labour and Adam arrived nine hours later. After he was born, he cried a lot and his eyes darted around the room. My narrative of Adam’s life in part goes like this: He was born and he was uncomfortable in this world. It was as if he already understood the painstaking road ahead.

I want to commend him and all that he has managed on his own — from the stares, to the people who have talked in front of him (all of us tend to do that until it dawns on us that we shouldn’t; we can be parents of typical kids and do it too). Despite his differences and challenges — he is neurologically complex unlike some other autistic kids — Adam has made friends in his own way. He will run up to someone and want his “squish” or “spin me higher.” He has a way of charming us to provide what he wants and needs. That look crosses over his face when he meets denial; his eyes begin to smile and glimmer like Marilyn Monroe on the silver screen. We succumb and receive our thank yous in many forms.

He has worked hard. He has struggled with motor planning and still finds it hard to hold a pencil, even a weighted one, among many of his challenges. For those moments he has been able to focus in the way we like to see, he has shown us what he can do — from typing, research projects, to his love of music, dance and YouTube. He is becoming a master of computer games, climbing, and of course, the trampoline. Aside from the times he needs some space from our demands, Adam has engaged us all.

I hope I can convey his beauty and loving nature on this blog. It is in honour of him as well as my message that he, as an autistic person, has been able to enamour us. It hasn’t been the other way around. Sure, many of us thought we had to engage him. We’ve taunted him with goodies and rewards to “respond” in a typical way as “proof” that he understands. Still, he’s in control. He has been all along. He has had to manage many of us “Typicals” in the way we speak, treat and regard him. Most of us don’t even notice how he’s able to do that.

As I create a plan for Adam which he will contribute to as he gets older, I think of everything Adam is, not what he should be. For ten years, I’ve heard more about his deficits and inconsitencies from teachers and professionals, and I’ve struggled with this like swimming against a strong tide. In all fairness to the wonderful people who have helped us on our journey, we all tend to focus on the gaps. Every parent wants their child to achieve. Every teacher strives to help a child become independent. It is our way of protecting and preparing them from and for a harsh world. I always need to come back to Adam and what he can do, or else I fear what may become of us. What of his autistic-ness has been consistent and is the message of how he needs to learn and be in the world? Once I view Adam as a consistent, whole being, I can see him.

Since he was eleven months old, Adam could decode or read words. He has been in love with books. The world, to use Adam’s own reference during a walk last week, may just be a series of “catacombs” that he is compelled to explore. It also causes him much anxiety. Be it his environments or knowledge itself, (see picture of Adam reading the dictionary), Adam is scaffolding and accumulating his knowledge, perhaps furiously, in neat boxes, in his very own and unique way. It may be one of his many contributions to us. There is value to how he learns, sees and thinks, and also in how he needs to navigate. I for one want to keep learning all about it. I want to keep “seeing” and supporting him despite all the veils that flutter in front of my eyes now and again, and that threaten to impede my view — many of my own making.

I look forward to the next ten years; our bumpy journey, joys and all.


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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.