All posts filed under: Essays

Spinning

B Side We had hardly anything but proximity and seasons of birthing in common.  Only a couple of leaves still clung to the trees and the wind whipped against our cheeks, but my neighbor and I still ambled down our street because we had strollers and a lot of quiet. My daughter’s afro puffs and her son’s wisps of blond hair were barely visible over the top of the strollers.  She texted me to tell me about her son’s autism diagnosis; her son would start at our neighborhood school in the exceptional children’s program next month. My daughter began in the exceptional children’s program two months before, at a school that treated exceptional children as a euphemism for difficulty learning, where the fence stopped before it made its way around the playground. A playground that sat next to the city bus stop on the busy street the school was named for. Even though we pushed our strollers down our neighboring driveways to meet for our walks, she had her son placed in a school right …

The Broken Crystal Ball and The Zombie Killer

As a single woman, I walked through city streets, shopped at local stores, and strolled through Target, my eyes fixed on the red bullseye flyer advertising this week’s specials.  The piercing wail of an unruly child then abruptly interrupted my stroll down memory lane.  The crystal ball in my head once told me that when I have children, they will never behave this way.  Later that day, I sighed loudly at a parent who thought it was acceptable to bring their whiny kid to a movie and allow it to cry during the best part of the afternoon matinee.  A rubbing of the crystal ball, and I saw me and my immensely supportive husband guarding our child against any R-rated movies, home on a Friday night, enjoying family-friendly carpet picnics and Disney-inspired fun. But was my crystal ball broken all along? Now I am in Target with my three-year-old throwing a Titanic-sized tantrum. Who is this kid that is taking me to task with all 39 inches of his miniature frame? Where is the supportive …

Our Journey to an Autism Diagnosis

When my son Miyka-EL, affectionately known by his middle name Elijah, was born nearly 25 years ago, I did not know that he would be diagnosed with a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that would shape our lives in so many ways. Going into labor at only six months into my pregnancy, Elijah, my miracle baby, was born at 24 weeks and weighed only 1lb 6oz. Elijah was so small he could fit in the palm of your hand. Unbeknownst to me, there was another conversation happening among the doctors and nurses. One doctor who examined my baby eventually broke the huddle and talked to me. He discussed how babies my son’s size didn’t have a significant chance of surviving.  The doctor asked if I wanted to hold my son in my arms until he died or if the team of doctors should continue to work on him. At that moment, my tears dried, and I immediately felt a warm sensation over my body; I was beyond angry.  How dare he offer my son life or death.  …

The Power of a Son, The Power of Being a Mother

Our recent heartbreaks and heartaches from the past five years shaped us to be the people we are today. As Eric. As Linda. And mother and son. As advocates. Here are a few snippets and snapshots from our lives from the past 5 years that I hope will inspire you. Eric’s Heart Eric’s gift is his profound spirituality. He has had a thirst for GOD and a fascination with the church since he was a child. Always say his grace before meals and he prays before going to bed. He even wears the name of Jesus shaved on his head. He never wants us to miss church. Eric takes notice of the things we take for granted, like flowers and sunshine. Children, the elderly, and the homeless hold a special place in his heart. When Eric was 11, it wasn’t so much being autistic that concerned him. Being autistic has become a part of the way he lives. Finding out he needed heart bypass surgery took him by surprise. He felt the hand that life …

The Noise of Living

Maceo stands bent over his knees, gliding his feet across the multi-colored carpet, lost in the patterns, lost in the repetition. He swings his swollen, blistered fingers like propeller blades between his teeth. He propels oohs and moos between spit-covered fingers, becoming louder and faster, gaining momentum. Attempting to fly. “Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye,” Maceo says, each word drawing him deeper into his world. Instead of soaring, Maceo flings himself back onto the couch, crashing into its center. He giggles and wiggles into position before picking up his iPad and launching into his favorite car racing game. He bursts out laughing as he attacks the on-screen controls for accelerating the race car and increasing the volume of the game’s music. He usually covers his ears with his thumbs when he hears loud noises. He stiffens his fingers in the air like moose antlers as a distress signal. As he plays, colors flash across his face like a kaleidoscope. In the quiet living room, onomatopoeic sounds collide. From the dining room table, his father, eldest brother, and …