Autistics Speaking Day

Today is Autistics Speaking Day and I am linked up and writing!

I'd like to welcome anyone who is visiting my blog for the first time and tell you a little about myself: I'm a photographer and writer (poet). The tagline of my blog, "...this wabi sabi life..." is a reference to the Japanese asthetic wabi sabi, which is the beauty of the imperfect.

I celebrate, and encourage others to celebrate, the beauty of our imperfect (amazing and fabulous, difficult and real, diverse) human lives.

My only child, Remy, who is five, was born after two years of trying to conceive. At the age of 3.5 he had an MRI that showed evidence of a "perinatal ischemic hypoxia" (in other words, a stroke, before birth). We found this out (randomly) while he was being assessed for a serious speech delay. The MRI and EEG were ordered to rule out seizure disorders (which run on both sides of his family). At that time, we also found out from the pediatric neurologist that Remy is quite definitely on the Autism spectrum. (And also that he does not have any seizure disorders, thank goodness!)

We are "aut and about" (a term coined, as far as I know, by Kristina Chew), proud of who he is.

I am grateful for Autistics Speaking Day and grateful beyond measure for the autistics and allies who are sharing their stories with us today. That those who can speak (or rather, write) for themselves, do so is something I am passionate about, as an artist and a writer and as a mom.

Not every person is so fortunate. Some lack the ability (or the therapy or the funds for the therapy to aquire the ability) and others in this world lack the money to be on the internet, sharing their stories. If you are reading these words, you are one of the fortunate ones, able to access the web.

Remy is five, so he hasn't yet joined this conversation. He is quite skilled at using my iPod touch to get around on the internet -- mostly YouTube and Netflix-- and do the things he wants to do, but he hasn't yet joined FaceBook or blogged on his own! LOL He'd much rather play Angry Birds.

Still, I cannot presume to speak for Remy.

As his mom, I help mediate his way in this world, championing him and clarifying things for him and for people who may not understand him. I do speak for him, when I need to.

But my main role as his mom is to help facilitate him learning how to advocate for himself. I am teaching him to speak out for himself so that he can help both himself and his community.

I am a strong ally to the autism community. I believe in neurodiversity and I believe that my own neurology is a little diverse, too: I am weird and quirky and have been a geek all my life. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree," they say, and both my husband and I see many parts of ourselves in Remy. Geeks marrying geeks aren't too surprised when they have geeky children. And we are overly proud of the geekiness we're fostering in our son.

But instead of speaking for Remy today, I want to speak from my heart and tell you this: diversity is the most important part of human culture.

To discount or demean any of us is to discount and demean all of us.

Awareness is good. Acceptance is better. (Tolerance, on the other hand, is bullshit.)

But Respect is what we all really need.

Respect. We are all only human. And every one of us is amazing and unique in some ways (and boring and similar in others).

Today, I encourage you to listen to someone's story you haven't heard yet. Read a post from one of these participants. Read a book that challenges your thinking. Spend just a moment of your day asking someone about their life, and the part of it that differs from your own.

Then, begin to tell your own story.

[All photos in this post were taken by Remy.]