By Yadira V. Calderon
Contributor: Guy Stancliff
She has a right to interact.
She has a right to be unique.
She has a right to be astounding.
She has a right, above all, to be respected.
Of course, in this world, none of that is guaranteed. But I can, as a mother and advocate, do my best to provide her with the foundational love and support that can allow her to go forth in this world with the dignity and belief that those rights are hers just as they are everybody else’s.
Her Right to Interact
All of us want to live life to its fullest. It all begins with our hopes and dreams when we’re young. Those hopes and dreams can be crushed easily at a tender age. Interaction with other children and adults is what shapes our social consciousness.
It’s what makes us understand what is possible in this world.
Looking and sounding the same as your peers can make things easier to interact. This is a given. But we’re still on the road to equality and inclusiveness for all.
Though autism is not something immediately noticed, it can take people by surprise. It was for this very reason that I knew education, in a fun and inspiring way, would help my daughter on her road to interacting fully with her peers and those in her community.
Her Right to Be Unique
Being unique in the world means having the right to be yourself comfortably.
Children with autism may often look and sound the same, but sometimes they don’t. People’s reactions vary and, though I can’t change how people react, I can help educate them. I can show that what might seem “strange” or “abnormal” is, actually, quite normal!
Her Right to Be Astounding
One of our educational projects is entitled Autism: The Happy Kingdom. A children’s story, it shows how a child with autism and supportive parents can be included in his or her community through openness, understanding, and most importantly, education.
A child can be astounding in their community if they have the confidence to do so. I can’t make my daughter exceptional: only she can do that! But, I can provide her with a loving worldview and help educate those around her, so she has the opportunity to do so.
Her Right to Be Respected
Respect can only come through dignity. When we bestow worth and dignity on someone, only then can we begin to respect them.
Thomais shouldn’t be respected because she has autism; she should be respected because, in spite of it, she is determined to live a life of her own.
*Yadira V. Calderon has been eating, breathing, sleeping, challenging and accepting autism for the past five years. She is a dedicated warrior, director of short films and author of the soon to be published Autism: The Happy Kingdom. She holds a M.A. International Relations and Diplomacy, speaks three languages and has lived in six countries, having travelled to another twenty-seven. Her friends know she is determined, persistent, positive, creative, open-minded and realistic, she believes none of these attributes could ever have prepared her to become the mother of seven year-old Thomais. She provides day to day support to adults with special needs. WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | YOUTUBE