Last Monday Emma was profiled in A Slice of Life Series that the blog Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism has been running through the month of April. This is the blog I wish had been around when Emma was first diagnosed, but that I am so grateful exists NOW, because it is by and for Autists and those who care for them. Almost all the comments were from Autists who have blogs of their own and I recognized almost every single one of their names. One of the people who reached out, Savannah, has a terrific blog called, Cracked Mirror in Shalott. After she commented on this blog, I went to hers and read a powerful post, entitled Payment about teaching life skills to young Autistics. The first sentence of her post is: ”I don’t want younger Autistics to learn some of the skills I have- or, at least, not the way I learned them.”
I will do her writing a disservice by trying to relate it here, so I urge anyone reading this to go to the link I’ve provided. I commented on her post and inquired if it would be okay to ask for any thoughts on how to help Emma learn to wash and rinse her hair, which we’ve been working on for close to a year now, with on-again-off-again success. In reply I received not only a lovely and thoughtful response from Savannah, but another from someone else, who had some terrific suggestions and also has a blog, Chavisory. As I pondered the various responses I began to formulate a fantasy. A fantasy of what I would love to see, what I hope I will live long enough to see, a vision of a different sort of world. A world in which adult Autists were mentoring and helping younger Autists. A world where adult Autists were involved in every aspect of society, education, government, policy. I imagined a world where Autistic writers had columns in every major newszine, newspaper and magazine. A world in which every single school had Autists teaching, devising curriculum, training and teaching neurotypicals how to best teach children on the spectrum and as I allowed this fantasy to develop I felt a surge of energy and excitement. I literally felt like jumping up and down. When Richard appeared, bleary-eyed and slowly reached for his cereal bowl, unable to contain my excitement any longer, I blurted out, “Can I tell you about my dream?”
“Can you tell me?” Richard asked, with a dazed expression.
“Yes. Can I tell you?” Unable to hold back any longer I launched into my fantasy, while Richard was still forming the words – “Yes, of course. Tell me.”
“Can you imagine what it would be like if adult Autists were writing books, teaching us, training us parents how we could best help our Autistic kids? Can you imagine how amazing that would be? Can you imagine how helpful that would be? Autists have insights that we can’t possibly have, they understand better than anyone the various sensory issues, delays in motor skills that might be making it harder for children like Emma to learn how to do some of these things. Can you imagine? Can you imagine a world where schools were created and run for and by Autistics?”
And before Richard could reply I kept going. I was on a roll. The excitement I felt just thinking about all of this was so great I couldn’t sit down.
“Think about it. It would be so amazing, unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.”
As I considered this fantasy world I felt the stirrings of determination. Why does this have to remain a fantasy? Why can’t this be a reality? What would have to happen for this to go from far-fetched fantasy to reality? I’m sure others have had this thought. What would need to happen? What are the next steps? I bet others have begun to make this a reality and if so, I’d love to know about them.
For my latest piece in the Huffington Post – Running With Mermaids
To read Emma’s profile in The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, click ‘here.’