How much of your life have you spent (wasted?) trying to be normal? I constructed my life around the mythical land of Normal, but someone has different plans for me. Last year we were told our son wasn't 'normal', so now we're packing up old prejudices, our preconceived notions and unrealistic expectations, and we're moving out of Normal to a different... possibly better neighbourhood.

You too will find yourself, no matter who you are, joining me in this place where the only true measure of normal is which kind of weird you are. This blog will explore a journey most of us will take at some point: letting go of preconceptions about ‘normal’, peeling our fingers off the image we had of what our lives ‘should’ look like, and having the courage to re-imagine the piece of time we are given in this world.

You are now leaving Normal.

"A nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there!"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

On My Love Affair with Autism

Bet you weren't expecting that title huh? Tonight those are the words that came to my mind, sauntered in all on their own. And this time they came alone. They left their little friend "but", at home.

We bloggers are always and forever writing posts that celebrate autism's gifts, and then customarily acknowledge its challenges. That is a worthwhile approach, and it's what I've done for most of the past year and a half. But I've been struggling to decide what to write for Autism Awareness month, that I haven't already written before. And this is it.

Because tonight, I just dont feel like writing about our challenges. Tonight I feel like giving Autism a great big hug. Don't particularly know why, except maybe that it's been too long since we last embraced. I was thinking tonight about how it's taken me a long, long time to get to a point in my life where I really understand what I love, and conversely, to recognize all that which is superfluous to a rich, rewarding life.

What do I love? I love my disordered little family; I love our smaller-than-we-could-afford-but-not-moving-because-we-love-our-neighbours little house; I love vintage fabrics sewn into cushions on a window seat; I love fresh flowers in the house and opening windows in spring; I love spending my days with the two little people I created and brought into the world; and I love a glass of red wine on the front porch while Daddy puts our creations to bed.

And as I write this list of things I love, it occurrs to me that Autism belongs here. It belongs on my Love List. I'll tell you why:

I love Autism because it made my son one of the most charming, engaging, beguiling, enchanting little boys ever in the history of always. Strangers routinely stopped me to comment on how he seemed to almost... glow. I love his glow.

I love Autism because it opened my mind and challenged me on long-held stereotypes that I never ever would have confronted without it. For example, it turns out not every homeschooler is a sister wife. Go figure!

I love Autism because it forced me to reconsider my priorities, and it relentlessly hounded me until I got them straight.

I love Autism because it inspired me - enought to pull me back to my true love: writing.
I love Autism because it has brought me here, to meet you. To learn from and share with you, to forge deeply meaningful friendships and wide reaching connections that I will not only cherish for my entire life, but which I could not possibly imagine my life without.

I love Autism because it has brought me more patience, clarity of thought, confidence in advocacy, and passion for living a genuine life, than I ever could have achieved without it.

I love Autism because diversity and yes, even difficulty, make the world a richer place.

I love Austim because many believe that some of the greatest minds in history have been autistic, and I am one of those believers. While I'm no scientist, I do believe that Autism - and the way we respond to Autism's differences - makes our species stronger, not weaker. 

But most of all I love Autism because it, as much as I, created my son. And if you met him you would know that he is passion and compassion, beauty and wisdom, humour and fear, and darkness and light, all embodied. He is Autism, and I love them both.


  1. I'm hugging autism for very similar reasons this month.

    Glad to know you. Would hug you if I could.


  2. Amen, sister. Amen.

    I'm aware that when you write beautiful posts like this one, people might think you're sugar-coating your experiences, and that you don't understand their struggles. But I don't think you're sugar-coating anything. I know that you're making your love for the people, and the things, and the experiences in your life stronger and more powerful than anything else. .

    Life is a difficult thing. It just is, the pervasive mythology about how it all ought to be easy notwithstanding. Life is not supposed to be easy. It's hard. That's how we learn, and grow, and come to appreciate what's really important and how to be happy.

    Another excellent post! Thank you so much.

  3. Beautiful. I think too, I've learned more about myself from my son than I ever could on my own. Just beautiful.

  4. I love this. It's kinda like "the glass half full" post on autism. Thanks :)

  5. :-) now my austistic daughter has hit (nearly) 11, I am really starting to value austism. The many difficulties we've faced along the way have now been swapped for an honest, reliable, straight-forward, intelligent girl who knows what she wants, takes advice on how to get it and, even though she still has many challenges to face in life, is as happy and loving as the day is long. When I hear other parents moan about the difficulties their "normal" pre-teens start to throw at them, I love austism all the more!! My eldest (13) shows many signs of Aspergers and she makes me praise autism too - a teenager who listens to logic and reason and gives an intelligent response?! wow, who could ask for more? :-)

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  7. Thanks everyone for your comments. This was an important post for me, especially in the wake of the PBS Autism Now series which really (negatively) affected me. I just needed to let go, if only for a moment, of the myriad of challenges we all face every day. It was a glass half full kinda day :)

  8. This is great. Really, really great.

  9. Appreciate you sharing. Blessings.

  10. Just came across your blog. Enjoy your deeper, thoughtful writing style and this beautiful post on celebrating the real joy and learning in the journey.

  11. Hello, I have enjoyed your blog in the past and just came across it again today. Lovely entry...I see it has been a while since you last posted, so I hope you are not stopping!

    I would love to add your blog to my site: Child Development Club

    I am looking for some good parent bloggers to also contribute to my blog on a monthly basis and if you are interested in learning more about the guidelines, please contact me at

    Thanks and keep writing,

  12. Thank you for this post. I love it.


  13. I miss your blog so much! Your positive thinking and positive writing have helped me through many challenges with my 4 year old son who has SPD and PDD-NOS. Hope all is well and you are just taking a break. Wanted you to know that your time and effort matters and encourages others out there going through similar things. Thank you and hugs to you!

  14. I'm curious about the "glow" you write about. What is it? My 5 yr. old son has Asperger's and ADHD, and he has always had "the glow." When he was born all the nurses and the Dr. commented that he seemed so alert. Strangers would approach me while I was with him when he was an infant and say things such as "That one doesn't miss a thing!" and "He's so alert!" and "He just glows!" I noticed the glowing and the alertness, and I often wondered what it meant when people gave me that feedback. Eventually when I learned he has ADHD (that was the first diagnosis) I figured that it was something to do with that- that he was like a live wire, and the electricity was just visible. Is this a phenomenon associated with Autism? I've never heard anyone else say anything about "the glow."