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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Autism Acceptance Project

Recently I was reacquainting myself with a blog called The Joy of Autism, which I was frequenting when I was blogging more regularly. It's a blog about the joys of raising a child with autism, and was a stepping stone in my path to neurodiversity. While I was there, something caught my eye: a circular looking symbol with the words The Autism Acceptance Project.

Intriguing! So I clicked and there was the Autism Acceptance Project. It's a Canadian based organization, founded by the author of The Joy of Autism blog, and very much in-line with my own thinking. Though, this particular project focuses more stringently on the art of autism than I would, it's still very much something I want to encourage.

If you want to learn more about TAAP, and see some interesting art in the process, check out this video. There's a lot of encouraging information there.

Due to this video, I found this essay, Don't Mourn for Us by Jim Sinclair. Here are some very telling excerpts:

Therefore, when parents say,

I wish my child did not have autism,

what they're really saying is,

I wish the autistic child I have did not exist, and I had a different
(non-autistic) child instead.

Read that again. This is what we hear when you mourn over our existence. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure. This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces.


That does not mean the child is incapable of relating at all. It only means you're assuming a shared system, a shared understanding of signals and meanings, that the child in fact does not share.


Grieve if you must, for your own lost dreams. But don't mourn for us. We are alive. We are real. And we're here waiting for you.


We need you. We need your help and your understanding. Your world is not very open to us, and we won't make it without your strong support.

For a long while I've related to connecting with an autistic child to building a bridge. You've got to build a little, they've got to build a little; you've got to cross a little, they've got to cross a little. Sometimes, you have to do most of the work. Sometimes, they're ready to help. Nobody can do it alone, but if connections are to be made it must be done. This essay, written by an autistic individual, confirms that theory, reinforces it, and gives me hope that someday more and more people will be willing to make the effort.

It is my goal, and the goal of The Autism Acceptance Project and the Autism Network International (run by Jim Sinclair), to open up our shared world for autistic individuals; not just for them, not just for us, but for all of us to share a better, more hopeful existence together.


At 12/19/2006 1:56 PM, Blogger David Schantz said...

I admit I know little to nothing about Autism, but I'd like to share something I heard with you. I recently had to go to a safety meeting at work, we have one a month. The supervisor that holds the meeting said he had just played Santa at a group home for children with disabilites. He said he met an autistic child that had not been there the year before. He told us that he came away from the meeting feeling that the child was more intelegant than most "normal" people. They simply lack communication skills. He feels they are to smart to explain their thoughts and thinks it might be the rest of us that have a problem.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

At 12/19/2006 2:05 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

There's some truth to that. The difficulty with intelligence is that it's typically measure via "normal" means. We rely very heavily on communication, and particular means of communication at that. There are societies in which autistic individuals are better able to flourish, because they are better able to get their needs met and meet the needs of other. Our society makes that more difficult, but in time...who knows what could happen.

Though, I find it truly sad that we, as a society, are still putting "disabled" children into group homes and institutions. That's the truly devestating fact.

At 12/19/2006 2:13 PM, Blogger mcewen said...

Hopefully we [the autistic people and us] can meet in the middle in the middle of the bridge......failing that I'm happy to pogo over to their side.

At 12/20/2006 1:47 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Hello McEwen,

It's a sad state of affairs that I just visited your blog, but alas...now that I'm on my "coffee break" from college I'll be getting caught up.

Right now my oldest has come most of the way across the bridge, and is mostly hovering by the railing. His example has prepared me to help my youngest across. However my middle child is very happy to be where he is on the otherside; so I'm definitely looking for a pogo stick there.

We'll work it out...there's no hurry.


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