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There are Days…

August 12, 2011

Days where the world leaves us bruised.

Days where decisions are harder than they should have to be.

Days where we question.

And then there are those things that happen to let you know that the only way is through it.

Directly, boldly, confidently through it.

And you know who teaches me that, reminds me of that? My kids. My friends. My husband. My family.

Boldness.

We’re open in this house; we talk things through, so my kids know about this blog. You’d be surprised what they understand, what they care about, what gets them fired up.

They know about some of the controversies in the online autism world (somewhat abbreviated, but they know). They know about woo. They know about inclusion and diversity and respect.

I am working to help them be confident in their ability to advocate for themselves, to be strong, to make the change they want in the world. I am working to show them that doing the right thing for the right reasons, while it can be hard, is, well, the right thing. I am teaching them to think critically, to make their own decisions, to seek out information and to work it out for themselves.

They know who they are, as well as anyone can. And they demonstrate courage, the courage to keep trying, to keep going, the courage to believe their actions can make a difference and then to carry forth on that action.

Next week, we’ll put on a Beat the Back-to-School Jitters event here. And working with kids in the kids session? My three kids. They have things to offer. And they’ll be there, offering. And they’re making artwork, both for the event, and for the ArtWalk we’ll be at the next day.

My kids love to draw, love to paint, and they want to help. They’ve watched me working on materials for the sessions for the last month now and want to showcase their work and contribute.

Yesterday I wrote about being the change you want. They are being the change. Very vibrantly, very uniquely and completely themselves, they are being it. And this is part of it.

Lil’s contributions:

She surprises me with her wisdom.
If you don’t care, then do not donate.
She heard some of the stuff happening yesterday.
Empathy. My kids got it.

Rosie’s contributions:

Bobby’s contribution:

I handed my kids 20 canvases and told them to make art. Those were the only instructions.
I know that many people out there have problems with AS and I respect their right to support groups that fit their beliefs and agendas.  I’m not asking anyone to convert, to believe, or to support. I’m claiming my right to speak openly and honestly about what I’m doing and why. I’m also not going to be intimidated into not sharing their work. Yesterday I almost was. But my kids reminded me. Their voices matter. Friends reminded me, supported me and encouraged me.
You’ll notice that Bobby and Lily both chose to write “Autism Speaks. It’s Time to Listen.” in their art. They believe it. They’re speaking. It’s time to listen to them. That’s what this means to them. Not that someone else is co-opting their words and speaking for them, but that their words matter and will be heard. That their words and actions will make a difference, that they can inform and shape the organization because their words matter.
Next week, we’re going to hold an event and hopefully make a difference for local families. Together, and we’re going to share resources and tips and have a good time. Autism Speaks is helping make that happen for me, helping make a dream, a hope, a wish become reality. Autism Speaks has a school toolkit that is freely available that we’ll be sharing with those families. It has a growing family services section offering more resources for families, more tips and more tools. I’m looking forward to seeing how their shift in mission changes how they do what they do, how they, too, become more inclusive, more receptive. We’re all on a learning curve.
There are days…
Days that energize you.
Days that give you hope.
Days that show you what you do matters.
The only way through things is through them. Avoidance doesn’t work. Turning your back doesn’t work. Moving forward works. My kids face often daunting challenges. The world is a scary place, fraught with risk, and it is my job to equip them to recognize those risks and to surmount those challenges that confront them. It’s my job to show them that we keep going, we keep doing, we keep acting out of our own places of integrity while respecting others’ rights to hold differing views. It’s my job to teach them how to reach out and work with others on common goals. It’s my job to teach them that no one gets to pigeonhole them, force them into a category not of their own making.  It’s my job to teach them how to present their message, and where, and when to know it’s not appropriate to do so. And I’m going to keep teaching them that each and every day.
And I’m going to continue to respect the rights of of others to work from their places of integrity. I’m going to keep writing about woo. I’m going to point out when organizations are supporting and promoting (and even worse being funded by the woo-pushers) woo that damages the most vulnerable. And I’m going to keep reaching out to diverse individuals and groups and working with them to make the world a better place for all people.
And if it so inclines me, I may even subject people to scrapbooking blogs. Not that I scrapbook, but those bloggers sure do look supportive of each other. You know what I mean?
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