Now, I know that it was the professionals whose words were empty, but I believed them once upon a time. At first I imagined Ty was like a mirror. I decided that if that was the case, I would simply hold up the most beautiful things for him to reflect. I immediately rid my mouth of fowl language. It wasn't good enough for Ty. I played music with the loveliest lyrics. I put anything Devine in front of him, but I still believed them. My great mistake. If there is anything I ever wanted you to know; be convinced in your child. Convince yourself that the understandings and words of Autistic people are real, that their lives are valuable and rich, that they have worth. Believe in Autistics because they are true. Figure it out.
It was something I read myself, Metaphors Are Important: An Ethnography Of Robotics, that changed me. I stopped reflecting what the "experts" said, I rejected it, and I began to understand. I share Julia Bascom's words again.
As much as I can hate words, I delight in them, too. When I’m echoing, referencing, scripting, riffing and rifting, storing and combing and recombining, patterning, quoting, punning, swinging from hyperlexic memory to synesthetic connection, words are my tangible playground.Make me talk like you, and you’ll get a bunch of syntactically sophisticated nonsense. Let me keep my memories and connections, my resonations and associations and word-pictures, and if you slow down enough, you might hear something ringing true.
Bells went off in my mind. Ty was no flat mirror. He is everything, in his own right. Communication then became a dance between us, a shared poem, a bonafied back and forth. I set down ego to pick up soul. Me for We. I cry as I type, thinking on if I had missed it. What if I never got a chance to dance, to delight, to feel the real of my son? Now I know, it is Ty who is the fairest of them all.
So Ty reads, and he understands what he reads. He started with the cardboard pages of baby books. He now selects books on his iPad. He has put this world together with reading. If that's not the most meaningful thing you ever read, I can't convince you. I can't be convinced of you either. You must be empty. And Ty speaks, and he understands what he speaks. He started with repetition, with memorization, with sticking keys into locks that we put up. He demonstrates his intelligence, his thoughtfulness, his intrinsic beauty, and I believe it, because Ty is true.
Many parents of Autistic children say that they would give anything to hear their child say "I love you," perhaps not aware of all the ways people communicate love. Perhaps, they aren't honoring the way their child communicates, but they should. Ty can speak but he doesn't have to say it aloud. I know. I'll never question his love for me, and he damn sure doesn't have to question mine for him. Lately though, he has been saying "I love Mom." It's straight from a series of books he's been reading on the app I Like Books. Perhaps, some would dismiss what Ty says as empty, because that's is what too many people do even when an Autistic person can speak. No doubt, they would be missing everything. He owns his words.
Metaphors Are Important: An Ethnograpy of Robotics from Julia Bascom
Scripted language and authenticity from Bev
Echolalia: That's What She Said from Musings of an Aspie