Filed Under (Acceptance, autism, Inspiration) by Estee on 09-07-2013
In 2007, I went to Edmonton to speak at Autcom. I happen to be presenting again at Autcom in Colorado this year about how to support autistic rights as parents, teachers, therapists and caregivers.
At that conference, I was interviewed for the movie Loving Lamposts (2008) which I saw briefly when it was released in 2011. I’ve spent much of the day today re-watching it as I write my thesis. I recommend you watch it for Roy Richard Grinker, Ralph James Savarese, D.J. and Emily, Kristina Chew, Charlie and James Fisher, Dora Raymaker, Sharisa Joy Kochmeister and her father Jay, Stephen Shore, Simon Baron Cohen, Paul Collins, Christina Nicholaidis, Kassiane Sibley, Nadine Antonelli, Lila and Lyndon Howard (boy you touched my heart), and more… and of course the maker of the film, Todd Drezner, his wife and the person they think about all the time, Sam.
It is an important movie for parents (and educators and doctors and…) of autistic children to watch. I don’t think there is any parent, no matter how accepting of our children, who don’t struggle with the temptation to succumb to the prevalent notion that we should be doing more therapy, advocacy, volunteer work and the like. The temptation to believe something is wrong when your child is the minority remains strong, and I remind myself how equally strong parents have to resist this negative vortex that takes away valuable relationship time. And, as stated in the movie, much of my thesis also has to do with how negative views, notions of abnormality and the language we use to describe autism can be assimilated by autistic people as part of their identity. This is really important to me as Adam’s mother. He is now half-way through the age of eleven, and after a really tough couple of months this year, as Adam was communicating something important to me, I consider that pondering my role, my beliefs, how I interact with Adam is, for me, a daily activity. In other words, the work I have to do as his parent on myself is not yet complete; what he wants for his own life and what he can and cannot do just is and I have to help him with that. In this, accepting autism is the hardest work I’ve ever done, and more often than not, the most gratifying. So, I just want to say thanks again for Loving Lamposts to remind me of this, for I believe we could all use reminding. Along with Wretches & Jabberers, it’s one of my favorite autism flicks.
It’s time to think about screenings and have more serious discussions here in Canada regarding how we support and regard autistic people. I sometimes get despondent when I see that ABA is the only option for our autistic children, and how that movement has gained such a hold in the field. It is of utmost importance that we discuss various habilitative services, the right to choice, the right to communication and devices and workers to support communication, to be autistic, the right to be accepted, to love, to be educated, to be supported in life and in finding purpose. My job as Adam’s mother is to make sure he has everything he needs to be an autistic person and everything he needs to fulfill what he wants to do in his life. And what I want for both of us is to enjoy our time together. It’s really important not to forget that.