Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Autism "Evolution"

I never say "Why Me", when it comes to having a child with autism. But I have questioned why is there an epidemic, why has this happened to all these kids, what purpose does it serve in the grand scheme of things?

One day it hit me. Maybe our kids are here because it's time for society to take another leap forward. Maybe they are a part of our evolution. As a society we have tackled race, age, gender, sexuality, but not until the autism epidemic have we be asked to deal so intensely with our prejudices and bias’s around people with disabilities.

Unknowingly and graciously our children, each with a unique combination of gifts, challenges and individual personalities are changing how people see “ability” and “disability”. When I was a kid we just called the different kids "retards" and "Geeks". They were not included in our classrooms and we didn't even wonder who they were. We had no idea who they were or what they were capable of. We didn't ask and we didn't care.

My understanding as a kid was zero. That is not the case for the children in class with Nicky. He is included in a typical classroom, behaviors and all! He has forever changed the teachers and the children who work with him. Teachers thank me for letting him be in their class. They tell me that before Nicky they didn't know anything about autism and they love Nicky and they love knowing how wonderful these kids are and they never knew how smart they could be. They thank me for sharing him with the class and letting them all learn from him.

The children have had the opportunity to get to know Nicky and they have both questioned and marveled at the things he does better than they do (from puzzles to roller coasters) and they have embraced him as part of the community. The kids really do love him and look out for him. He has broken their "Retard" paradigm.

Year after year I have seen Nicky change how people think about children with developmental disabilities. I have seen Nicky be a catalyst breaking through ignorance and societal bias. I’ve seen him change lives as people came face to face with their ignorance. I believe that everyone with ASD on this planet is here for a purpose. Watching Nicky and his impact on the world I’ve come to believe that he is a critical part of human evolution.

So when I'm feeling down I will try and remember that Nicky has the gift of purpose. All of our kids have the gift our purpose. They are here to open our hearts and minds and expose our ignorance so we can all be better.

I believe each of our children are here to teach the world.
I believe each of our children are here to do something only they can do.
I believe that we were chosen as the ones to assist them.


  1. Donna,
    Yes! I could not agree more! And, I think it goes deeper. I believe humankind-wide neurodevelopmental change due to the chemicals we've pumped into our bodies. See Scientific American's excellent article, "Autism linked to environment" at

    and, of course, my own ruminations about "the dawn of neurodiversity" at:

    Nicky's classmates are prepared for a world populated by a minimum of two individuals with autism out of every hundred. They are ready! It's the others--the police, the job market, the housing market, etc.--that worry me.

    Keep up the great advocacy efforts!

  2. I love reading your newsletter. It makes me realize how strong we are as women. But black women have always had to be strong. It makes me want to hug you and then hug Nicki and Evyn and then hold down my own 24 year old son and hug him (smile). You are a force and we're here with you my friend.