My daughter came home from a sleepover (yes, attending a sleepover was an accomplishment in itself!) with a new T-shirt. Her friend is a crafty sort, as in Martha Stewart crafty. Wait, that’s confusing. Crafty as in Martha Stewart of the television show, not Martha Stewart in the orange jumpsuit. Anyway, my daughter and her friend decided to decorate T-shirts during their sleepover, and my daughter was proudly showing hers off as she walked through the door.
In her wobbly dyspraxic handwriting, she’d written, “I’m autistic and there’s good things and bad things about being autistic.” My eyes puddled, and I saw a glimmer of hope that my daughter will maneuver through this world beautifully and in her own unique and splendid way.
Here was this 10-year-old girl proudly embracing her autism and doing what she could to educate and advocate for herself and people similar to her. Earlier in the year, her teacher marveled at how my daughter fielded questions about her accommodations, like chewing gum, wiggle seats, and weighted vests. Her teacher said, “She just explains about her wiring and why these things help her. It’s amazing to watch.” When I asked my daughter about this, she said, “Well, I figure that not only will it help them understand me, but maybe they’ll be kinder when they come across another kid with different wiring.” Happy sigh.
I know that we have some tumultuous, identity-questioning years ahead of us, but for the moment, my daughter has fully embraced her identity as an amazing gifted girl with autism, dyspraxia, and epilepsy. And really, isn’t that what we all hope for our children? That they can understand themselves and embrace their uniqueness, yet not be defined or feel limited by their diagnose...
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