I don't know what to write tonight.
I'm thinking about Elias's future. Where will he be at 22, when he ages out of the support systems available for children with special needs?
If he doesn't shapeshift into a tiger, what will he be when he grows up?
I watched two movies this week on PBS: Lives Worth Living, about the the Disability Rights Movement, and Autism: Coming of Age. My mind expanded more than a few degrees in the watching. And yet I sit here unable to write about what I saw. Still processing it all.
Elias will be tested in the next two weeks for Autism.
And I do think he's somewhere on that spectrum.
And a part of me wants to throw down this kitchen table I sit at, crash it to the ground along with this computer and all the words I could ever write on Autism and Cerebral Palsy, and visual impairment, and a baby born and resuscitated before 25 weeks. I want to kick over the chairs and stomp on the wooden legs until they no longer stand. Till they fall to pieces too.
And yet another part of me sees Autism as a blessing for my miracle boy. For the baby who squeezed my finger when we first met so I wouldn't let go. Who shows me, daily, what strenth is and how to love beyond words, above ordinary and expected and normal and healthy and OK.
A blessing? you say.
Elias is second grade boy who is legally blind, wears diapers, and walks with canes. He sits in an adaptive chair in his classroom of 25 "more typical" kids with an Aide by his side and will say out-loud, "I have a poop." And yet he has shown no emotional angst about how he is perceived by others. Or even how he compares physically, socially, or intellectually to kids his age. If this is the gift of Autism, I may not need to destroy our kitchen table, the place where I write, and where our family gathers to share a meal at night. I may still want to sit here awhile and sort it all out.
I don't know where Elias will be at 22. But his place at the table, in our kitchen, in our home, I owe to the protesters of the Disability Rights Movement, who literally crawled up the Capital Steps to demand access to public services and inclusion in a society that had previously put children like Elias in an institution to just sit.
Elias will not just sit for a living, this I know. And the rest, well, it will come.