As I sit here writing this, Monkey is doing water play in the kitchen. I filled a big red bucket with water and put objects of different shapes and sizes and textures in it, then let him have at it. He loves it, and it saves my toilet from over flushing. An added bonus is that I will have nice clean kitchen floors after mopping up the water that he spills. This week we have spent time researching locks and child proofing devices that will prevent Monkey from leaving our apartment and from flushing the toilet and running the taps in the bathroom. I do think we’ll have to leave instructions for any adult who comes into our home, but at least our bathroom and front door are autism proof. Or Monkey proof, anyway.
I’ve mentioned on facebook that April is Autism Acceptance month. Various autism communities have different means of expressing this. Some call it autism awareness, but awareness is just the first step that leads to the ultimate goal of acceptance. Awareness is tolerance and education and understanding. Acceptance is compassion and patience and love. I don’t want to send my kid out into a world that merely tolerates his differences; I want to send him into a world that celebrates everything that makes him who he is. Autism, in this house, is not a disease or a condition that needs to be cured. It is a part of what makes Monkey very uniquely HIM. It is as part of him as his multicoloured eyes, and sandy brown hair. We don’t love him despite autism, we love him exactly as he is.
It isn’t just that this month we go all “autism pride”. We live our lives like this every day. Every day we advocate for our son and tell the world to love and accept him when they stare and judge. Every day we are faced with recognizing the things that make Monkey different. Every day we watch him try to overcome the hurdles of typical communication and social skills. Every day we attempt to prepare him for a world that is not perfectly shaped for him. Every parent strives to make their child ready for the world, to teach their child how to be themselves and to be whoever they want to be. That is all we are doing as well, but also trying to teach the world to be open to new things, to accept that some people think and learn and behave differently from the rest of us.
So this month is when we autism parents shout out loud (or, louder than our usual). Now, it is time for me to put an end to the water play and take my children outside to spread a little acceptance.