Last Thanksgiving, I posted on Facebook that I was thankful for my friends, some of whom I have met. Most of my Facebook friends are part of the disability/autistic community, including supporters and allies.
My life has changed a lot in just one year. I feel much stronger and my confidence in my abilities has grown. This is mostly because of the support of my friends.
I’ve always liked to write and I have been writing poetry for a long time. A few years ago I saw ASAN’s video “No Myths” and I felt like I could and wanted to do more self-advocacy. I wrote to Ari Ne’eman and the first time we met he suggested that I write to my local newspaper about issues that affect us.
I followed Ari’s suggestion, I started sending letters to the paper and they were published.
The second time we met he wanted my opinion in several issues. And that was so cool!
I wanted to know more about other disabilities issues and I joined Facebook, where I could read articles and blogs from other autistics.
Then I decided to write an article and everything changed.
After “Non-speaking, ‘low-functioning’” was published, lots of people wanted to hear from me. I met so many amazing people, autistic bloggers with so much to share and the smartest people I know. Parents of autistic children also valued my words.
Before all this happened, a lot of people valued my words and my opinion, but the internet multiplied this by many more.
I was invited to present, for the first time, at a conference – Ryerson University in Toronto.
At the same time all this was happening, I decided that I could not miss the Facilitated Communication conferences. This is how I communicate and I must work hard on becoming more independent at typing. I met more amazing people who value me, recognize my efforts and support my journey.
The biggest difference in my life a few years ago and today, is that today I feel that I am making my own path. Before, I had to wait for things to happen, I was responding and reacting to what other people were doing. Today I can do all this and I can start a new conversation.
At these moments, my self-esteem is healed.
One suggestion from Ari Ne’eman and everything changed. My community is awesome!
I am here and I am thriving, despite the many voices that predicted my bleak future in a nursing home, or that I would be lucky if I could find someone to “take care” of me.
I believe I am lucky. Even before my life changed so much, I had friends who never doubt my competence and who always encouraged me to go further and speak up. They were the ones who stood with me when others diminished me. They are also very happy today, happy for me and for themselves, because they agree that my community is awesome.
But before the big changes, I depended on them to meet and make new friends. Today, while they still support me with all the things I need, they step back and witness while I meet and make my own friends, through my words, my work and my will. And sometimes old and new friends meet and connect too.
My life is so amazing now! I keep writing and good things keep happening; I travel to conferences, meet people and they want to listen to what I have to say; I know more about disabilities rights, civil rights, autism and the neurodiversity movement. My community exposes me the knowledge I wanted, even though I did not know that.
I have so much to be thankful for and so many people to thank.
My life rocks because of you. All of you!