Thursday, November 10, 2016

It’s time for AA – Autism Anonymous NO LONGER!

I ran today. More on that later…


Hello, my name is Heather and my grandson is autistic--and I couldn’t be prouder. I am not proud just because he is my grandson.  I am not proud despite the fact he is autistic. I am not proud because he is high functioning. I am proud he is autistic. End of. It’s pretty, darn cool.

Autism isn’t a disease, disability or something you cure. I get annoyed when people want to “fix” this fascinating, wonderful, diverse and incredible way of thinking. Imagine how history would be altered if Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Nicola Tesla, or Mozart were “cured” of their autistic traits?

L is hands down my favourite grandson (so far). He is sensitive, analytical, literal, and advanced beyond imagination. He will cry as he recounts going on holiday a year ago as he remembers what it felt like to miss the very dog he holds in his arms. He knows everything about Minecraft and French fries, routine and technology. He is amazing and incidentally has the best sense of direction and humour of any kid I have ever met—ever!

I have told this story many times, however I am telling it again, (deal with it). When he was three, L got a hold of my phone. He went to the app store, purchased a racing game (with my credit card), downloaded it, loaded it and played it, all while I was trying to figure out how to change the TV input from satellite to the DVD.
These minds deserve celebrating.
However, today, while trolling, I read a post by a friend (well, former friend) on Facebook who is a nurse who I believe has her Masters and possibly even a Ph.D. and who at one point was a nursing instructor in an accredited Ontario College. It showed a picture of a man, maybe in his early 20s sitting in a crouched position sucking his thumb. The caption read: Yes. As a matter of fact that is a grown man, at the ariport in the fetal position, sucking his thumb…Nice shoes though.

It got worse, with the ever-continuing comments:

 thought children eventually grew out of that

 true, but he wasn’t wearing diapers

maybe he was

smiley face.

NOT COOL. To me, he was obviously on the ASD spectrum (and it was obvious to many others who commented after I did)

I am assuming no malice was intended, I mean I have in fact been guilty of smiling at a “People of Walmart” photo or two…But, come on. YOU ARE A NURSE!

Sometimes when I get offended on Facebook, I simply disengage, but if it is something to do with cats, GMOs or autism, I simply lose my poop, and throw-up my opinions all over the internet. Can’t help myself. Today was no exception. However, I was polite (somewhat):

Devil’s advocate—could be ASD, could be stimming. I look at people differently now after having some experience with this.

I thought I showed exceptional restraint, right?

Last year, my grandson wasn’t able to attend an upcoming birthday party. A parent of another child was asking my daughter if L was going to this particular party. My daughter answered, “No.” The other parent’s response was devastating, “I’m not letting so-and-so go either. I won’t let him go that house. The older brother is autistic.”


When my daughter recounted the story, I was dumbfounded and asked what she said and she said, “Nothing.” She didn’t know what to say. I can tell you it was a good thing I wasn’t there. I don’t think I would have given a flying…monkeys (you know that isn’t the actual word I am thinking) and probably would have casually mentioned that L was autistic also…just to see the expression on her face.

I am starting to think we need to be proud and loud! No more keeping things quiet. Let’s celebrate and nurture the scientific and artistic minds that belong to those with autism. Let’s say “No” to Autism Anonymous.


Back to the running part…I haven’t been faithful with my runs, but I was so worked up, I actually wanted to run off some steam. And, to be honest, my faith in humanity has faltered in connection with a recent political development south of the border. I am also working on editing a book about how to deal with emotions, and apparently I am supposed to feel them and let flow through me instead of hang onto them. The only way anything was going to flow through me today was if I ran.

It went well until the final 200 meters from the house. I think I experienced what others refer to as a panic attack. My windpipe just closed up without warning or reason. I couldn’t breathe and I was gasping uncontrollably….and it wasn’t due to the speed of my running, trust me.

Then the concepts taught by one of my friends (and positive coach), Louise Aspden came to mind. This is totally my interpretation—but she advocates just trying to get to a slightly more positive place than where you are at the moment. You don’t have to leap straight to rainbows and unicorns all at once, just try to see something a little better and brighter by applying gratitude. I looked at the beautiful fall trees, stopped (obviously) until the panic attack subsided and breathed in the smell of the warm, fresh air and realized it felt really good to have run. There, just a little better.

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day. Wow, many people paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, and I cannot truly comprehend the magnitude of their valour. Really, I can’t. But, I am thankful. What a gift—and I don’t want to waste it.

It’s a new world and I believe a new type of warrior needs to be born—a warrior of love, compassion, and hope. A warrior who quietly but politely speaks up and says, “Not cool.” A warrior who does not accept traditional weaknesses as imperfections but as celebrations of humanity. A warrior who uplifts and exhalts rather than tears down. A warrior who cares for the elderly, the children, the poor, the vulnerable--even if that means not sneaking that picture in the airport. We’re all in the same trench, people! Wake up.

It’s time to be anonymous no longer.

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