Autistic Warriors

Warrior

We have no autism warriors in this house. We do, however, have Autistic Warriors.

As the neighborhood mothers and children gather at the bus stop two houses down, two Autistic Warriors wait for their bus.

Autistic Warrior the Younger runs in circles and cries “Wooo!”

Autistic Warrior the Elder smiles. “Ahhhh, such ferocity! He fights a brave battle against the anxiety of imminent school bus arrival!”

At the craft store, Autistic Warrior the Younger dons fearsome headphones to shield himself from the horrifying banalities of cashier-induced platitudes.

He fights a more formidable battle another day. The sour faces of judgmental and prejudiced shoppers sneer. They expect silence and order as they purchase their bananas and frozen Celeste Pizzas. To defeat them, Autistic Warrior the Younger unleashes his greatest weapon:

“Hello! My name is Tyoma. Would you like to know a bit about me? I have autism, Tourette’s and OCD. I could read before I was two and I am profoundly gifted. Sometimes my Tourette’s makes me jumpy so I can’t be still. Thank you and nice to meet you.”

These are the Younger’s words–a script he wrote to relieve the inexorable internal pressure of not knowing what to say. He chooses when and where to use it.  More than one pretty brunette at Target has been startled by his impromptu delivery.  Scowling cashiers, previously confounded by chirps and defiant hops, soften their features.

His introduction often evolves into pleasant conversations about numbers or merchandise.  We hear, “My xxx has autism, too!” more frequently than you would predict. Once, a cashier with dangly earrings and sparkly eyes leaned forward and beamed, “My son is autistic, too.” I took a second glance, and noticed the warrior horns of a True Ally emerge, pointed and imposing.

Self-advocacy is potent weapon against Autistic Warrior’s foes, stigma and ignorance. And when the Younger Warrior is weary of the battle and chooses not to engage, I remember. People imbibe auras.  Emit calmness and confidence, I remind myself, never shame or exasperation.

Self-advocates and allies speak in many voices; some soft and peaceable, others loud and ferocious. Regardless of volume or style, connecting personhood to autism wins every battle.

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47 responses

  1. Oh I just love you so much!! Whenever you write a new post I immediately stop everything and read because I know, I know I’m going to smile and cry and laugh, sometimes all at the same time.

  2. This post is too awesome for words! I too love you and adore you ever so!! It is such a gift to read glimpses into your wonderful world filled with adventures like these and how you and T both are incredible “Autistic Warriors!” <3

  3. I was not having a very good day, but I keep re-reading your post and each time my joy increases. Thank you so much, now I feel like Snoopy when he dances! (I hope you read Peanuts cartoons to know the image I’m referring to). I have sent this link to others, just wonderful :)

    • Thank you, Jo. I totally get the Snoopy dance, I read paperback after paperback of cartoons as a kid. It is so fulfilling to have reached you. I understand the little things that cheer. So proud to be a part of your joy!

      Lori D.

  4. Oh, how I love this!! I love the sense of determination for supporting your son in pridefully being his authentic self. I am going to share this with H tomorrow… it is so honouring and empowering…

    ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

    PS. Your illustration is spectacular!!

  5. There is too much brilliance in this post to leave detailed comments but… thank you. We are at the beginning of trying to help build awesome stories/scripts for our eldest (6).

    • Cristina,

      I am grateful for your support. You are right, scripts are a marvelous way to help an ASD person. At 46, I still use scripts. I have more finesse in delivery than my son, but the confidence it gives me is immense. My 80 year old Aspie father is taking over more of the shopping in my parent’s household. He has been stretching his brain with “shopping scripts.” It’s funny that “Hello, where are the bananas, Miss” sits right next to all the Shakespeare he remembered in high school!

      I think I’ll even put together a post on this! Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  6. I love this so much! That script reminds me of my own son’s and the responses are some which we have received. Lovely. You don’t always have to scream to be heard.

    • Jessi,

      Thank you for visiting. We fight people’s perceptions that our children are “spoiled” or “wrong.” Scripts blow that right out of the water. I appreciate you dropping by and sharing with me! :)

      Lori

  7. I just love you guys!! T is so lucky to have a Mom who can understand how his world works, because it’s your world too! I hope you know that this ability had given Tyoma the most amazing gift… permission to be himself! I truly believe that T’s amazing leaps in developement over the past 6 months or so are DIRECTLY linked to his ability to identify his anxieties, tics and compulsions for what they are and then move either through them or around them. You have given him permission to be who he is by sharing his world and giving concrete form to the whirlwind of feelings (emotional and physical) that flood him every day. I hear him say to me, others and even himself things like “Oh, that’s just a pesky tic” … “I’m going to try and tolerate it” … “I simply can’t tollerate it, you need to help me” … “I need to tell that person they are stupid, but that would hurt their feelings so I am whispering it to you” … “I simply must _______, so what are my choices for that?” … or… “this is not a good place for me to be, can we go somewhere else?”. Every single time he is able to identify and express what is going on inside him … he is also able to release a big bubble of anxiety, giving him the ability to move forward and grow. You, Autistic Warrior the Elder, have done this for him, so take a moment and pat yourself on the back because being able to reduce any anxiety, for Tyoma, is a HUGE battle won!!!

    • Thank you so much Danielle. I cried when I read this. So much of my wisdom has come from you. You are a conduit of acceptance and how I aim to be as a mother. I’m all choked up, but I promise some extra-giddy flaps when I see you next.

      With Love and Respect,
      Lori D.

  8. Thank you…and yes. I have 3 kids, two are HF ASD. And they read people better than I do. They can tell if someone is scowling at them because of them stimming in public. I am extremely fortunate that I live in a decent sized autistic community. The children or adults either have family members or schoolmates that are autistic, so I don’t get those looks very often.

    I taught my children sign language and usually introduce myself to kids and people that way. If I had met your son, I would have done the same.

    Warrior is the correct term and I wish everyone would read this entry. Kids read people better than we think and it might make someone think twice before projecting a specific kind of energy.

    • Thank you for visiting and taking a moment to share, MommaDe! I wish all parents took the time to observe and understand their ASD kiddos like you do! My Dad, son, and I are all quite sensitive to how other people react to us. It is sometimes in the front of our minds because the intuition space in our brains are filled up with other wiring.

      How lovely that you live in such a spectrum friendly community. I find most people to be very kind once they understand that T. is not spoiled. In fact, I question the whole notion of “spoiled children.” Perhaps past generations connected neurological make up to upbringing.

      It’s great to meet an Ally and fellow mom! :)

  9. Scowling cashiers are no match for the autistic warriors. The craft store was defeated, now on to the yogurt shop to take on your next foe!

  10. Thanks for sharing. I didn’t realise Tyoma has 3 alphabet soups – other than the quality of your articulation, another aspect of your writing that really draws me in is the complete absence of anger/resentment (fill in the blank) > you make your points intellectually and with great power, despite having every justification to be part of the angry brigade > I often find with blog posts there is an inverse relationship between anger and substance, which is another reason why your writing is such a joy to read

    • Sam,
      Thank you so much for your kind words and observations. I am grateful to have had some wonderful people in my life to model intellect and compassion. I try to look at others with sympathy because they might not have had such wonderful teachers. I also avoid reading angry, inflammatory posts. It’s just not healthy for my gentle spirit! I am very glad to have you as a reader and fellow blogger. :)

      Lori D

  11. Pingback: In the News – October 2013 | The PsychoJenic Archives

  12. As a clinician who works with autistic individuals and has family members living with autism, it is really awesome to hear about real life success stories for self-advocacy! I love reading your encouraging posts and learning more about supporting my loved ones in the real world!

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