A New Look at Autism

In celebration of neurodiversity and snowflakes

I remember a crisp winter day when the snow had just begun to fall outside and as I looked up from my computer screen I realized the boys were silent. As any parent can attest, a quiet child is a child up to something, so I went in search of the boys and found them both laying side by side on the hardwood floor of our living room with their heads touching the glass patio doors—mesmerized by the snowflakes falling on the other side. Instead of returning to my work, I lied down next to them, and in that moment I also was caught up in their wonder.

Today my sons are 9 and 7 years old. They attend the same public school that has classrooms devoted to children on the autism spectrum who are not ready for a fully inclusive education. Sam speaks a number of foreign languages with perfect pronunciation and has taught himself to play the piano and the drums. Noah taught himself to spell using foam letters at the age of 3, and while his favorite activities are those involving swinging, running and jumping, he excels with shapes, numbers and reading.

The study of autism and its complexities have never been more groundbreaking than they are right now, and I am thankful for the many organizations that fund them. However, more than anything I am excited by who my sons are as autistic individuals. But I'm also excited by their futures, as they and others like them challenge society to change its views of autism from something to be feared to an opportunity to embrace and respect neurodiversity.

Sunday Stilwell is a stay-at-home mom of two sons with autism and a writer from Owings Mills, Md. You can read more about her unique family on her blog,Adventures in Extreme Parenthoodand via her social media addictionsTwitter,Facebook,Instagram, andPinterest. In her spare time she likes to sleep and fish with her husband Mike … but not at the same time.

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