Friday, October 31, 2014

So...that sucked.

Hi everyone.

It happened. It was horrible. And it's going to happen again, soon (date not yet confirmed).  It was NOT what I expected; it was WORSE.  I have a headache from endless crying, but I think I needed to get it out. I was sad. Now I'm mad.

I'm mad because the truth is being twisted. I'm mad because there are apparently hidden agendas and vendettas at play. I'm' mad because things are being horribly misconstrued.  I'm mad because although lip service is being paid to how much this is supposedly in my kids' best interest, their stability and emotional well-being is obviously not being prioritized.

It threw me off because I wasn't expecting these types of tactics; I'd assumed we were all going to operate with integrity.  Now, however, I know what I'm working with.

One of my dear friends took my daughter out to a Fall Festival tonight, and my husband spent time with our other kids. This allowed me the time to crawl into my bed and weep. I needed that.

But now that the tears have dried up, I'm fighting mad. They'd better watch out. Because I'm going to use this anger to fuel me in the next stage of this situation. I will remember how they did us and how little regard was given to my boys' feelings. It will only make me press on all the harder.

And I'm not going to let them take another day away from my family. I am taking these kids out tomorrow. I'm not going to spend the day crying and sad; we're going to go somewhere and DO something, darn it. I don't know what exactly, but I'll figure it out, because we are going to keep living.  We have to.

I appreciate the love and support you all have shown me through this. It ain't over. And it will NOT beat me. I want my life back. So I'm taking it back, by force.  I might experience some doubts and sadness along the way, but I am going to CHOOSE to keep going.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

And the children shall lead!

(A similar version of the latter part of this blog post also appears on my advocacy blog here.)

***

I hope you all don't mind me sharing something from a very unconventional little advocate...my youngest daughter. 

My daughter is six years old. She is a sweet, fun-loving little girl who loves to read, loves to sing, and loves to play. She has an IQ in the moderately gifted range. She is also a little girl of color and proudly Autistic. 

As she has been reading books independently since before she was two years old (she, like many Autistics, was hyperlexic), she took it upon herself a few months ago to dismiss me from my bedroom story duties.  Now she and her little brother, who is four years old, take nightly turns choosing a book. Then the two of them lay down and she reads aloud (since he can't read).

She was very concerned about the book that they read last night. So today she decided that wanted me to send them a letter that she wrote to tell them about her concerns. She emailed the following message to me for me to print out and send on her behalf:

"Can you put little dog in the back so the dogs can be safe? I am six years old. It made me feel confused when little dog sat in the front of the car. If kids read Being Safe they will think that they should sit in the front of the car too. It's that they won't be safe."

She was concerned about a section of the book that depicted a dog buckled in the front passenger seat beside his mother (the "animals" were dressed like humans and were acting like humans as well) while she drove them around in their car.  She wanted them to consider changing that to prevent possible safety problems. 


It has been a rough week. Very rough. But every day I see so many reasons why it is important to continue advocating, continue educating, continue caring about the world around me. I am humbled, and inspired, on a daily basis by so many wonderful people who give of themselves in an effort to make things better for all of us. 

Sometimes my daily inspiration comes from any number of the selfless, dedicated, extraordinary people who are doing amazing things around the world. 

But sometimes it comes from the simple act of a familiar person in the next room, like my baby girl.  She's just a small child, but she's pretty amazing to me actually. So very proud. 

The day before the big day...

(A similar version of the latter part of this blog post also appears on my advocacy blog here.)

So...

Tomorrow is The Day.  In the afternoon. I am PRAYING PRAYING PRAYING up a storm. Praying. Reading the Word. Crying (only once today though!). And praying some more.

I am determined to fight, determined to reach with all my might for a positive outcome. I do get worried and scared, but after the first few rocky days I have been fighting to keep a grip on my sanity and not allow myself to be overcome with fear and doubt.  I'm trying to be positive and not dwell on the negative and the "what if" scenario.  I've pledged to myself that we will utilize everything we can to address the monumental problem in our midst. And I've been trying to prioritize self-care, because this is a very emotionally draining situation.  I've been trying to occupy myself by doing what I love. Engaging in advocacy. Spending time with my family.  Dabbling in some (corny) creative writing.

My sweet hubby will be missing an important work deadline so that we can go in and wage war together tomorrow. This is the first battle; an important one. It's not likely to be the last one, but it is a crucial element in this fight. In a sense, tomorrow might "make or break" this whole thing. PLEASE keep lifting us up in your prayers and thoughts.   I will try my best to post an update. Prayerfully it will be a happy one and not a tale of defeat and woe.

But in the theme of staying positive, I'd like to switch gears and talk about something else, something that I thought was very sweet and encouraging. It's cross-posted on Advocacy Without Borders too. :)
***

I hope you all don't mind me sharing something from a very unconventional little advocate...my youngest daughter. 

My daughter is six years old. She is a sweet, fun-loving little girl who loves to read, loves to sing, and loves to play. She has an IQ in the moderately gifted range. She is also a little girl of color and proudly Autistic. 

As she has been reading books independently since before she was two years old (she, like many Autistics, was hyperlexic), she took it upon herself a few months ago to dismiss me from my bedroom story duties.  Now she and her little brother, who is four years old, take nightly turns choosing a book. Then the two of them lay down and she reads aloud (since he can't read).

She was very concerned about the book that they read last night. So today she decided that wanted me to send them a letter that she wrote to tell them about her concerns. She emailed the following message to me for me to print out and send on her behalf:

"Can you put little dog in the back so the dogs can be safe? I am six years old. It made me feel confused when little dog sat in the front of the car. If kids read Being Safe they will think that they should sit in the front of the car too. It's that they won't be safe."

She was concerned about a section of the book that depicted a dog buckled in the front passenger seat beside his mother (the "animals" were dressed like humans and were acting like humans as well) while she drove them around in their car.  She wanted them to consider changing that to prevent possible safety problems. 


It has been a rough week. Very rough. But every day I see so many reasons why it is important to continue advocating, continue educating, continue caring about the world around me. I am humbled, and inspired, on a daily basis by so many wonderful people who give of themselves in an effort to make things better for all of us. 

Sometimes my daily inspiration comes from any number of the selfless, dedicated, extraordinary people who are doing amazing things around the world. 

But sometimes it comes from the simple act of a familiar person in the next room, like my baby girl.  She's just a small child, but she's pretty amazing to me actually. So very proud. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Heartfelt thanks & slight update

Dearest friends,

(I hope you all don't mind a blog post as an update.  I know it's not the same as responding to people individually, but it's all I am able to manage right now. I hope you can all "feel" my heart through my words.)

When I tentatively rejoined/reconnected with the "real world" today (for pretty much the first time in a few days), I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support, concern, prayers, offers to help, etc regarding our family situation. Messages, comments, emails, texts, voicemails from so many people letting us know that we were loved and not alone.  It meant so much to me that even though my "spoons"/energy are still on the low side, I felt compelled to write this post addressing all of this, and all of you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. So much. I do not possess a vocabulary sufficient enough to express my sincere gratitude to each and every one of you. Thank you. As I said earlier, I lack the emotional strength right now to respond individually the way that I should, but please know how very much it is appreciated.

I am hurting right now, a lot. I had an uncle pass away this week on top of everything else that is going on. And though I already miss him, his death was somewhat expected given his valiant battle with a lengthy illness.  This new development/unexpected situation affecting my sons' security in our family was absolutely NOT expected. We were 100% broadsided by this. It might sound odd, but even though they are living, the situation with my boys hurts even worse than my uncle's death.

Right now I am in deep distress and emotional pain, and though I know it isn't rational, I also feel a sense of guilt over my inability to "fix" this and prevent my children from potentially enduring something that they shouldn't have to. Cognitively, I know it's not my fault, but my heart feels differently.  I feel as though in some way I should have seen this coming, somehow...I'm a relatively smart person and should have been aware.  But despite being technically "smart," I'm also a very naïve person in some ways. I'm a "straight shooter;" I don't play games and don't always detect when others are doing so. Obviously, at great peril.

I have had a very difficult time the last few days "dealing" with this disturbing discovery.  The way I have handled it is to basically hibernate; the kids went to be with relatives who had a greater grip on their sanity than I this weekend, and essentially I just stayed at home (mostly in bed) hiding from the world, though during select moments of lucidity I did try to process, strategize, and cope.  My DH tried to draw me out to support and encourage me, but I was very enveloped in pain and sadness, so sadly I wasn't as receptive as I could have been. Fortunately he understands, especially as he is hurting too.

The things that I usually enjoy doing - I couldn't handle them. So I haven't been on any outings, haven't been on social media or online, haven't really seen or talked to anyone, haven't been able to cook, or read, or write, or listen to music. I have sent regrets for nearly all of the meetings and conference calls I have coming up throughout this week because I don't feel that I can handle any of that right now.

I know I have not shared with specificity what is going on.  I'm sorry to be vague, but legally, I cannot say much (and might have already said more than I'm supposed to in my earlier post, even though I didn't spell it all out; I hope not though). If all goes according to plan, we have an important "meeting" (not the real term for it, but one that reveals less and is safer to use) with key individuals coming up that will shed more light on what is to come. Once that has passed, it is possible that I might be less restricted in terms of communication about some details, though many other areas of the situation will likely remain off-limits.

Please know that it isn't because I don't trust people to keep my confidences if shared privately that I am not revealing details. It's because I want to be ethical in my dealings and try as much as possible to play by the rules, even though I think some of the rules are frankly a load of BS.  As they've asked us not to speak in detail about it, I want to honor that.

I don't want to give anyone any ammunition against us or to appear that we are disregarding policies and expressed wishes about how all involved parties will conduct ourselves.  It's important to me as a person, and as a Christian, that I fight fair. I am definitely going to fight, but I want my hands to be clean in this. (I know that until now no one was aware of legal nuances, so please don't misinterpret my words as being critical of anyone who encouraged me to share more freely if possible.)

I feel very blessed that so many people are willing to help us in some way if given a chance. I am a true believer in the power of unified voices. And I have no shame when it comes to my kids; no shame at all. If the time indeed comes that my global network of friends can weigh in on our behalf, believe me I will not hesitate to send out the call.  When one is in need, it is critical to seek help even if it's not something one is accustomed to doing on a personal level. There's too much at stake to try to "go it alone" when there are people willing to assist. I am truly, truly blessed to have so many great people who are willing to help us.

In many ways, when it comes to my life I am a very open person, but in other ways, especially when it comes to sensitive matters related to my children, and also when it comes to certain emotions, I can be pretty private. (I'm sure most of us are like that.) Writing balances this dynamic, however; it is an integral part of helping me function in the parts of my life that are open as well as the parts that are more private.

Writing is therapeutic for me, but it is also do much more than just that.  As long as I can remember, writing has been instrumental in helping me to have a positive outlet to "get out" feelings and/or experiences that are otherwise too difficult for me to express, or even at times understand. It is my "native language." But because, like most Autistics, I'm an "all or nothing" person; as such, there are times that my writing can sometimes leave me feeling somewhat naked and exposed.

That feeling of exposure, of emotional nudity - while it might make one feel vulnerable, it is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it was too much for me this weekend.  I really put myself "out there" and it was scary. I'm not perfect, but I am usually strong, usually pretty positive, and usually able to hold it together. In this situation, though, that has NOT been the case. It is a scary thing to admit to oneself, and even scarier share with other people.  It makes you feel like...I don't really know, exactly. Not ashamed. Not embarrassed. Just...I don't know.  I guess wounded, broken. Hurt. All if the things I do feel, with this.

I captured my weary heart in words. Then I literally logged on to FB, posted the blog link as a status, and logged right off - and stayed off.  To share that post was very revealing for me, and difficult. But I felt that I needed to, as I didn't know how else to express the depth of my emotions regarding this whole mess.

I am going to try, slowly and in small doses, to re-engage with people IRL and online. I still feel very, very weak and wobbly, and very sad. But I need to "keep going" in life. I need to NOT give up hope no matter how dismal things look, because the final outcome is not yet determined. My kids need me to re-summon that fighter spirit that I have. It might be somewhat "worse for wear," but it is still in me somewhere. I need to channel that.

I need to fight for my kids, for my family, for myself. I cannot do that laying in my bed staring at the wall and sleeping for hours at a time.  Self-care is important, but there's a time to "lick one's wounds" and a time to fight. Right now I need to fight. Well, I guess I kinda need to do both actually (nurse my wounds as well as fight, but more of the fighting.

You have all been wonderful, and I can't thank you enough for showering us with so much kindness. I feel so supported, and will try to draw strength from your friendship and love. My family has been great also; pitching in to help and support us through this nightmare.  The other day my mother gave me all of these songs and Bible verses to meditate on when I start feeling sad. When she first tried to give them to me, I have to admit that even though I consider myself a strong Christian, I haven't exactly been acting like one, and I wasn't very receptive at first. I've been pretty preoccupied with feeling downtrodden and devoid of hope.

I told her to definitely keep praying over this, but shared with her that I felt really sad because it looked like a lost cause.  Even though I appreciated what she was trying to do, I was just too worried to "get" what she was trying to say. I said that my family was like a little "David" and this situation was like a giant "Goliath" (from the Bible story).

But then she reminded me that even though, like us, David was smaller and less equipped than his opponent, in the Biblical account he still won. He was victorious despite the fact that it appeared to be hopeless. She said that I can be victorious in this as well.  And then she demanded that I get up, shower, and eat. Even if I was going to get back in bed afterward, she said, she wanted me to at least do those few things for myself.

It's kind of ironic; one of my favorite Bible verses is in Genesis 50 and talks about how a particular circumstance that was meant for harm ended up being used by God for good. I would love to experience that in this scenario.  I hope and pray with all that is in me that this will not go the way it looks like it's going to go. Please, please, please. I'll do anything not to have it end up like that. I just don't think I can handle that; I really don't. I don't want to have to handle that.

I don't know what is going to happen, but I desperately want a positive outcome. Even if it is an unrealistic thing to hope for. Even if it seems like that's a ridiculous thing to want. Can the seemingly impossible be possible? I need it to be.

I thank you all for your love, and apologize for not being responsive to messages/emails/etc right now. It's not malicious; I'm just really bruised and not yet ready to be in regular communication with people yet.

I intend to listen to and read everything that has been sent when I can even if I don't get back to you for some time; please know that I am grateful. You are not "pestering" me (someone asked if they were) in the slightest; it is helpful to know that we have people in our corner who care so much about our children and our family. If you can, continue to remember us in your prayers and/or thoughts. We need them - so, so much.

With loving appreciation & gratitude,

Morénike & fam


Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Lied to Them

I lied to them.

Over two years ago when we finally brought them home, after all those years of bureaucracy and fighting to make it happen. They were finally home. Home. I wrapped my arms around them and told them this was their home. Their mom. Their dad. Their siblings. They'd never have to leave; never have to move anywhere else again.

I lied to them.

They locked the doors to the restroom when they bathed or voided. They locked the bedroom doors when they changed clothes. They locked themselves in the closet when they felt scared. I told them that they were free to lock the doors as long as they wanted to, but that they no longer needed to. They were safe at home, with their family. No one would ever hurt them again.

I lied to them.

They bonded with my siblings. My nieces and nephews. My parents. My cousins.  I told them that this was their family. They were as much a part of it as every member that was born into it. Our culture was now their culture too. Our traditions their traditions. Our name their name. They would grow up with us, a part of us. All of their lives they'd have this extended family connection.

I lied to them.

I told them that they would have a chance to graduate elementary and middle school with the friends that they'd made. No more would they be the perpetual "new kid." They could let their guard down; get rooted. The people they'd met at church, in sports, in scouts, in the neighborhood - these were people that they would be able to establish a bond with throughout many years. They would have numerous years of memories of fun and friendship.

I lied to them.

When they woke up with nightmares, remembering their past, crying and screaming. When they courageously confided the horrors they'd survived. When they broke windows, walls, doors. Every one of these times they asked if we were "finally" going to send them "back."  Every time we told them that there was no "back." They were HOME.

I lied to them.

If this "meeting" fails, which it seems likely to, in a matter of weeks my family will be no more.

I lied to them.

They don't share my DNA, so I am powerless; dependent upon others to determine my babies' fate.

I lied to them.

Unless my God, whom I am beseeching with the tears and pleas of a mother's heart, intervenes, they will face their 11th move in their short lifetimes - their eighth in a decade.

I lied to them.

I didn't mean to, but I lied to them.

I lied to them.

I lied to them.

I lied to them.

And that makes me as just as bad as all of the people who hurt, neglected, and violated them all of these years. Maybe worse. It doesn't matter if I meant well; the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

I lied to them.

I lied to them.

I lied to them.

I will NEVER forgive myself.

I will NEVER get over this.

I hate myself more than I have ever hated another human being.

God, please protect my babies in the way that I will no longer be able to. Please hear my broken cry.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Who Really Cares About All of This?" I Do.

"Who Really Cares About All This?" I Do.

She didn't mean any harm, this nice woman who is the parent of one of my children's classmates. I'd contacted her to respond to (yet another) query asking several parents to consider volunteering at a particular time of day.  I gently explained that while I was happy to help out as needed in other ways and at other times, I couldn't commit to this particular task due to other obligations. She seemed satisfied by my answer at the time, but proceeded to bring it up on another occasion (today) while we were waiting for the children to be dismissed from school.

I'd gotten to school early (a rarity for me, lol), so I had a few minutes to spare before the bell rang. She was waiting there, along with another parent. I greeted both, exchanged some polite pleasantries/used my small talk script.  She brought up the volunteering thing again and I politely declined, citing the same reasons that I'd already given her.  Then I whipped out my phone.  I logged on to Twitter, and started signal boosting some tweets about the current #IAmNotKelliStapleton/#WalkInIssysShoes flashblog as well as the upcoming #EndVAWHIV (Day of Action to End Violence Against Women with HIV) flash blog.

After a few minutes, I glanced up and noticed that she was peering (nosily) over my shoulder, looking at my screen. A bit startled, I gave a half-hearted smile, put my phone in my lap, and searched my brain frantically for the appropriate script to use when someone is reading your tweets/posts without your permission. I didn't come up with one, and was trying to figure out what to say when she asked, "So what is this flash blog thing you're writing about, exactly?"

O-kay.

Although that wasn't what I was expecting her to say, I thought it was as perfect an opportunity as any to share. I asked her if she was familiar with autism, and informed her that I was autistic.  We then spent some time talking about autism, and progressed to a discussion of the Stapleton tragedy and the Dr. Phil show episodes. She was familiar with the topics, and we had a relatively decent conversation.



I then segued into how important it was for the public to have an accurate, non-stigmatizing portrayal of autistics and their families - as well as people with disabilities in general. I talked about how harmful it can be when people equate autism to violent behavior, using media speculation over the neurology of people involved in recent school shootings as an example.  I shared how many in our community were hoping that we could re-center the conversation about autism to make it more balanced and more inclusive.

She listened attentively.  Then, with a dismissive wave of her hand and a little laugh, she remarked that she "couldn't be me" because she thought the idea of being involved in activities outside of our children's school was "draining."

"Is all that really a big deal?" she asked.  "I mean, isn't there time to worry about all that autism stuff later? It seems like you're making a big deal out of stuff that's not necessary right now. I mean, when they grow up and graduate, maybe you should do something then," she said.  "I don't think you should be doing flash blogs about stuff going on with people you don't even know.  To me, seems like overkill to worry about that right now; who really cares about all this?"

Fortunately, that was the end of the conversation, because the bell rang and kids started pouring out.  As I walked away, I replayed the conversation in my head, wondering if she feels sorry for me because I think there's a world outside the PTO, class mom duties, and class parties?  She says she "couldn't be me?" I find that ironic, because I "couldn't be" like her.

"Who really cares about all this?" she asked.

Well, I do, darn it.  I do.

I'm not knocking the very important role of parental involvement in schools. Research shows that it extremely important for parents to play an active part in their children's education. I have no "beef" with the PTO; I'm a proud dues-paying PTO member of all four of the schools my kids attend. I've chaperoned many field trips and baked treats for many class parties.

Heck, I drive over four hours a day to three different sides of town to ensure my kids can attend schools that best meet their needs as opposed to just settling with the school that's five minutes away. I help with homework, revise rough drafts, make "flash cards" for quizzes, cut and glue items aplenty for science fair projects. I agree that it's important to be involved in my kids' school affairs.

However, I reject the idea that there's something wrong with caring about things outside of that. I can't fathom what it means to think it's acceptable to ignore the world around me until my kids get out of school. My youngest child just barely turned four; he has a minimum of 14 more years until he is out of school. And as he, like his siblings, is disabled, it may not be in his best interest to finish school in 14 years; he might need to retain public school transition services for 16-18 years. Am I supposed to refrain from any meaningful involvement in life activities until then?

People are being viewed as "less than" NOW.  People are having their constitutional rights denied NOW.  People are being bullied NOW.  People are being abused NOW.  People are being discriminated against NOW.  People are being hurt NOW.  People are being killed NOW.

I cannot wait, and I will not wait.

My strong love for my children and the desire to fight to make this world a better place for them will not permit me to ignore the world around me for years on end until the timing is "more convenient" for me. By the time my kids grow up, many opportunities to try to effect change will have been lost.  The time to DO something is now, not later. Not only so that I can try to make things better for their future, but also so that I can lead by example. They will not always be children; they will one day be adults, and when that time comes, they and their peers will be the leaders, the thinkers, the decision-makers. They will need to know how to speak up - and out - for themselves. But if I - their parent - don't do that, how will they learn?

Until they can speak for themselves, I believe it is MY job, my duty, my responsibility, and my privilege, as their mother, to do it for them. To assert their personhood. To make sure that they are viewed properly and not tokenized and/or stereotyped.  To demand that they are given the rights and dignity they deserve as human beings, regardless of their skin color, the country they were born in, their serostatus, their faith, their gender, their disability status, their neurology, or any other factor.

They need me to do that just as much as they need me to look over their homework, bring fruit for the class party, or check their reading logs.

In fact, they probably need it even more than any of that.

By Morénike Onaiwu


For more flash blog posts, click here.)




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Standing Tall


In March of this year, a US federal budget was released proposing the October 1st elimination of a program called Ryan White Part D. This program provides family-centered healthcare for ~90,000 US women, infants, children, and teens affected by HIV. As part of a family that would be directly harmed by these changes, I engaged in various advocacy efforts (in conjunction with other concerned individuals and organizations) to oppose the elimination.

One of these efforts was a virtual protest - a flash blog: ‪#‎SaveRyanWhitePartD‬: No HIV+ Women & Children Left Behind, that was held on April 10, 2014 to coincide with National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. I had seen the impact of flash blogs that had been led by the Autistic community, and I wanted to do the same for the HIV community - to get the attention of Congress and other lawmakers. Wanting a big turnout, I reached out to everyone and anyone to help support the protest.

One of the very first people to volunteer to help was Neurodivergent K (Kassiane). Not only did she signal boost many of the Part D advocacy activities, she offered to contribute to the flash blog. And despite university coursework, a job, and her own health challenges and other responsibilities, she not only contributed a post, she took great care to express herself in a heartfelt and thorough manner that helped illustrate the importance of maintaining the program. I am proud to say that the program was indeed saved from elimination.

Kassiane did not gain anything by participating. There were no perks and there was no recognition. She is not personally affected by HIV and is not a consumer of Ryan White services. Her involvement was purely altruistic. She did it to help a friend, she did it because she cares about marginalized groups, she did it because that's the type of person she is. For no reason other than it's the right thing to do, she gives and gives and gives.

Is she perfect? No; none of us are. But what's most important is that her heart is in the right place; we all misstep. In addition to being a luminary, a writer, an advocate, a mentor, and an educator, she is also a kind person and a loving friend.

Like many others, I am saddened by what has transpired this week; I wish so profoundly that things had gone so very differently than the way they ended up. But it is what it is. And like so many others in our community, without a doubt or hesitation I can say that ‪#‎IStandWithKassiane‬



                       




Radical Neurodivergence Speaking: Save Ryan White Part D Flashblog

When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world "No, you move."


timetolisten.blogspot.com

Monday, October 6, 2014

Autism Defined: A Poem

This is autism.
A world where we are defined as a list of "deficits" and "problems" needing to be overcome. 
This is autism.
A world where our killers can be showered with sympathy and compassion for having had to endure a life with us. 
This is autism. 
Incessant fatigue created by having to navigate societies not designed for us, not respectful of us, not accepting of us.
This is autism.
Being misunderstood. Being judged. Being discriminated against. Being manipulated. 
But this is also autism:
Learning to cope. Learning to stand. Learning to embrace oneself. Learning to live. 
This is autism. 
Originality. Uniqueness.  Sensitivity. Detail. Tenacity. Courage. Truth. 
This is autism. 
Being human. Being accepted. Being loved. Being free.
This is autism. 
A growing community.  Hope. Change. Faith. Surrounded by the love and support that strengthens us.
This is autism.  
The word that allowed me to finally understand my children.  
Finally understand my mother.  Finally understand myself.
Finally know myself.
This is autism.
Understanding.
This is autism.
Resilience.
This is autism.
Survival.
This is autism.
Purpose.
This is autism.
Future.
This is autism.
Acceptance.
This is autism.
It is me.
It is you.
It is us.
This is autism.

Copyright 2014 by M. Giwa Onaiwu