Reprinted with permission from Richard Long’s Facebook
A is for Ausome! 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013
Today is the Autism Positivity 2013 Flashblog Event! And I have a lot of positivity to share. Absolutality!
When our daughter was diagnosed 9 years ago, the only thing I knew about autism was Rainman. Everything I was told in the beginning, terrified me. It was a tragedy! An Epidemic! Autism had to be STOPPED! 9 years later, my perspective has shifted 180 degrees, largely due to my wife Ariane Zurcher introducing me to autistic adults who were incredibly intelligent, insightful, witty and downright hilarious. They were also exceptionally caring, sensitive, compassionate, empathetic and yes, sarcastic–many of the qualities that the “experts” say are defining characteristics of what autistic people lack.
LACK, or the “deficit model” of autism is all too tragically (in this case, I’m NOT being hyperbolic) still the prevailing viewpoint of the media, the medical and scientific community, politicians, educators, caregivers, autism fundraising organizations (like Autism Speaks), advocates, activists and parents of autistic children. Like me.
I bought into all of this. Viewed Emma’s disabilities as tragic, our lives as tragic and all of us at war with autism. We were going to find a cure, and the Emma would be “normal”. Today I just want her to be who she is: blissfully happy most of the time, silly, funny, mischievous, talented, loving and highly intelligent. Emma is completely unselfconscious. She doesn’t worry about what people think of her (as far as I can tell). She doesn’t tease or bully other kids. She may be aware of her physical beauty, but it doesn’t seem important to her in the least, although she likes pretty dresses–and sequins when she’s in the mood to perform, which is often.
Emma is a born performer. She has an incredible voice, amazing range, power and near-perfect pitch. She likes an audience. Every dinner party we have is an occasion for her to hit the stage. She has very eclectic tastes in music: her current top twenty list includes Bowie, Lady Gaga, September, J. J. Cale, the Clash, and an assortment of Greek, Latin and Mid-eastern music. She also has an astounding memory, so every note of every song, every harmony, every word is recorded and retrievable.
I could go on and on with my positivity inventory, but if you’re at all interested in learning more, understanding more, and having your perspective jolted in a new direction I have two blogs to recommend:
Emma’s Hope Book by Ariane tells of our journey and discoveries and is wonderfully written:http://www.EmmasHopeBook.com/
Tiny Grace Notes by Ibby Anderson-Grace, an amazing autistic woman and dear friend who has opened our eyes and our hearts to a more wonderful world:http://www.tinygracenotes.com/
On both of these blogs you’ll find lots of links to other ausome autistic bloggers, writers, activists, mentors and simply marvelous human beings.
So come inside our world and make yourself at home. You are more than welcome you are wanted. We have a long way to go in order to shift the mainstream autism from tragedy and lack to opportunity and ability.
So get your positivity on! Share and care. Learn and discuss. Make the world a more wonderiffic, fantabulastic place to live!