Filed Under (Acceptance, Autism and Learning, Behaviours) by Estee on 05-11-2010

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I’ve always called Adam my “little hummingbird.” The way he flaps his hands and can dart back and forth, particularly when he seems to me “revved up.”

So many speicies receive respect from us in the sense that while we do not fully understand their behaviour, we know there is purpose and meaning behind it.

As I continue to work with others regarding Adam, I proceed with caution. The goal in getting Adam to focus, still seems to hang on getting him to stop these behaviours. We believe that once he stops, say, hand-flapping, he can “stay on task.” It’s certainly a challenge if we expect Adam to do something in particular that other typical kids do.

I am not dismissive of this or maybe even some need for it. Except, as his parent who watches him day in and day out, who can see his anxiety on some days after certain events which then can increase this “over-arousal,” I am trying to encourage Adam’s team to engage in his activities. I find that when I hum like him, vocalize and turn it into song, Adam looks at me with a rapturous smile. Working with Adam, as with anyone, involves a total respect of him and his needs and behaviours as well as a compromise from both of us. As adults, it’s up to us to learn how to teach Adam, and kids like him, to be creative thinkers. I don’t believe that we teach autistic kids to do this. We teach them to repeat back to us what we want them to. While we may want them to be creative and critical thinkers in the long run, I have to ask as I hope all of you do too, how are we nurturing this?

I want to learn how to teach Adam to think and act creatively, as I recognize that most of his day is spent with people telling him what to do… and to “quiet” his precious hummingbird hands.


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.