Today is aflutter of St. Paddy’s day excitement and all the buzz of the new Beauty and the Beast movie premiere, controversy and all. In the midst of the celebratory excitement and chaos, we have a celebration of our own going on at our house.
March 17th marks a special day that is all our own– more specifically all my son’s own. This year marks his Three year autism diagnos-a-versary. Today, we choose to celebrate.
Three years ago our family was overwhelmed with brochures, charts, graphs, and “it’s a rough road ahead” dispositions. We were primed with all the classic fearmongering that is piled on thick by the go-to “autism awareness” organizations that are presented with such bright colors in the diagnostic process.
As newbies to the “parents of a disabled child” circle, we did ascribe to some of these leanings for a time– before we knew better– although it never really sat right with us.
All the resources put in front of us were so much about making us, the parents, feel comfortable and had little to nothing to do with our autistic child. It was as if he was an accessory to our lives that we could mix and match as we see fit to achieve a perfect look.
In this third year in autismland, I must say the best thing we have done for our son as neurotypical parents is to listen to the voices (or writings) of autistic people.
We must move from awareness and even acceptance to celebration. In Amethyst Schaber’s moving keynote linked below, she describes how autistic people don’t need to just be tolerated or seen as acceptable, they need to be celebrated.
And frankly, the idea of celebrating autism as a neurotype causes a lot of upset in some people. The able bodied majority has created a culture that sets up disabled people for internalized ableism. It’s gotten to the point that the only context we allow ourselves to even see disabled people is through inspiration porn colored glasses. Why is it that we are okay with erasing disabled lived unless they are objectified for our inspiration?
I believe this is why celebrating autism is so offensive to able bodied people. For some reason we think that to celebrate is to diminish struggle, difficulty, and even despair. What life, disabled or not stays on one side of an extreme? I love this except from an article by nonverbal self-advocate Amy Sequenzia who writes:
I celebrated being Autistic and disabled, with everything that comes with my disabilities, epilepsy included. Even though autism and epilepsy are two separate things, they are part of me and I cannot celebrate my life with one, and not another.
To celebrate any life, is not to erase or sweep our struggles under the rug.
Walking through the chaos, without exception, we celebrate everything that makes you our churrito!
Happy diagnos-a-versary, monkey!