My Coming Into The Neurodiversity Movement: An Excerpt by Sarah Ruth
Updated: Feb 16, 2020
I was afraid of Autism. There I said it, out loud. I had studied autism in school although when I left school I can tell you that I didn't understand anything about it at all except that it was a developmental disorder, and one which the incidence of was steadily climbing. No one knew the cause and that was that. Then I worked in the field, met a few kids on the severe end of the spectrum, and although they were the most amazing kids, I was even more afraid of autism. With my older son, I waited with baited breath for him to talk, and he did...with no issues whatsoever, he talked and talked and talked, to the point that he exhausted me. Phew ok, guess we're ok here. Found out the second baby was a boy, bing...there went that little thought again. So I actively took steps throughout my pregnancy, labour (I'm Canadian, forgive the random U's in my spelling) and his early childhood. I had a home delivery with no drugs or interventions of any kind, We used a delayed vaccination schedule, and being that we now lived in an area known for high lead content I made sure no tap water ever touched his lips. Sound crazy? Maybe a little. But what can I say, I only knew about the "dark side of autism". The "epidemic" of autism as it's being labeled. I guess what's crazier than my preventative techniques is that guess what, I still had a child with autism. And unbeknownst to me, was also married to someone on the spectrum!!! Today, I don't want to talk about the dark side of autism. Today I want to celebrate my beautiful and amazingly talented son. All those years I spent trying to "prevent" this "tragedy" and I'm here to tell you that this little boy, is no tragedy at all! I wish I could really put into words what it feels like to have a full conversation with someone using only your eyes! It's incredible and had I never experienced it, I'm not sure I would believe in such a thing, but we do it, Z and I, every day! Z is non-verbal which means he does not speak, but he does understand. We get the odd word or short phrase out of him every now and then and while I have heard "I love you" twice from him, and it meant the world, it means just as much to me when he speaks it through his eyes! The joy I feel when he accomplishes something, it's a joy that can chase away even the darkest of clouds! Don't get me wrong, this life isn't all sunshine and rainbows...I heard a statistic the other day that having a child with autism is the equivalent of having 6 kids...HAHA! I buy it! He certainly keeps us on our toes. Don't dare turn your back for 30 seconds because this little genius can paint himself head to toe in an entire jar of diaper rash cream in that timeframe! I know, I've got the pictures to prove it, and my bathtub can still tell stories!!! I have felt pride before, with my older son, he makes me proud every single day. But honestly, I had no idea what this level of pride is...and by that I mean like when Z learned how to point his finger to tell us what he wanted, when he learned to finally walk down the stairs. The first time I saw him doing actual school work. Right down to the first time he actually 'played' with a toy instead of carrying it around. I was even proud, the first time he coloured on my front door. I took pictures of his artwork and celebrated that that is what 2 year olds do! I proudly posted those photos to my facebook wall so everyone else could share my joy! In our house, autism isn't the dark tragedy, it's just our life! In our life, the tragedy is the lack of awareness AND acceptance. My biggest fears are for Z's future and how people will treat him as he goes out into the world, because to me he'll always be the happy, beautiful little boy that can light up a room with his eyes, but I want others to be able to look past his hand flapping, inappropriate laughing (yes, there is such a thing, boo) and random screeching noises he makes and see the beautiful person that is there, because unfortunately the older he gets...the less "cute" that stuff will be and real acceptance and understanding is what we need. So on this world autism day, I would like to introduce you to Z, my personal hero!