The Important ‘Voice’ of the Autistic Expert

My interactions with disabled individuals, from cousins to classmates, started at a very young age. My most impactful experiences likely came from my mother working at a group home. Some children were wheelchair-dependent, some spoke, some didn’t speak so well, and some did not seem like they belonging there. At that time, I didn’t completely understand why people were ‘different’. But I always understood that, no matter their appearance or abilities, they deserved compassion and respect.

When I was younger, the terms ‘Autism’ and ‘Autistic’ were not including in my language. However, I believe that my experiences and interactions with the disabled helped to prepare me for one of my most challenging – and rewarding – roles, being a mother of a disabled, Autistic child. My family’s journey with Autism started over six years ago, even though we only became aware of this journey last year.

The journey has been full of challenges, but the biggest challenge for me is not knowing! Not knowing if he hurts. Not knowing the healthiest foods that he will eat. Not knowing the best methods for him to learn. Not knowing if I have what he needs to maximize his success. He doesn’t have many words to vocalize his needs and wants, but he has plenty of potential role models who have experienced some of the things he has, and some things he will, experience.

This week, I have started a project to collect work from autistic authors who want to share their knowledge and educate others about their perspective of Autism. I can’t imagine a better expert to relay these life lessons. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all are teachers and students. Let’s support our Autistic authors and let the know that their voices are important to us!

If you know an Autistic author of books, blogs, etc., please leave the information in the comments area, or email me at NotMadMotivated@gmail.com.

We are the support that we need!

Happy Day, Mothers!

On the second Sunday of every May, many people in the United States, and around the world, take the day to celebrate mothers.  As Mother’s Day approached this year, I wanted to write something to commemorate this special occasion.  I sat down several times but could not find the proper sequence of thoughts and words to satisfy my desired message.  With time running out, and with severe writer’s block, I decided to wait.

Ironically, waiting to celebrate mothers on a day other than Mother’s Day became the very essence of this current expression of love and appreciation, since the importance of a mother could never be contained to just one day.  No matter your opinion of her, or your relationship with her, your mother shared her whole self for you to be in this exact moment reading this opinion.  Whether you view your mother as your best friend, whether you have never seen her face, or whether you two argue every time you speak, she has successfully fulfilled the unspoken promise for you to have this moment of time.

No mother is perfect.  Although some mothers make it look easier than others, being a mother is hard.  Being a good mother is even harder.  As children, we can impose unrealistic expectations on our mothers.  These expectations may be unrealistic because of lack of experience, lack of knowledge, lack of support, lack of mental capacity, lack of education, etc.  However, with compassion, forgiveness and unconditional respect, children may find themselves healthier and more productive adults.  Imagine a home, a community, a state, a nation, a world where children grow up to respect their mother for the gift of life, if for nothing else.  Since the Mother-Child relationship is our first relationship, imagine the lasting impact that this unconditional respect would have on our relationships with others.

Whether you think fondly of your mother, or not, please find the need to have respect for her – even if that respect comes with boundaries, which we should learn to expect in all healthy relationships.  So, celebrate each day by being your best self.  And honor the role that your mother played to get you here by excepting and learning from her best self.

Have a Happy Day, every day, Mothers!