Monday, April 27, 2009

maybe it's not impossible

(Some spoilers for Impossible ahead.)

Since it's still autism awareness month, I feel vaguely justified in writing this mostly personal post. I didn't try to work it into the review, but Impossible had some unexpected resonances for me. One of the oddest things about being the mother of my son is seeing so much of my own childhood replaying before my eyes--something I very much didn't expect, because our environments are so extremely different. I was very happy to be able to give him everything I didn't have -- stable home, two loving parents, security, material comforts. And sometimes it just kills me that it doesn't seem to make any difference. He is still so anxious, so much an outsider, so often unhappy. Nature trumps nurture.

But -- that's not entirely true. My autistic son can express himself verbally better than I ever could. (Another friend, whose son is not autistic but has had lots of interventions for emotional problems, notes the same thing - they do learn from all the therapy they get.) He has inner resources -- not enough yet, but a start. Although he is very unhappy about his physical development compared to other children, he has an enjoyment of physical activities and his body's abilities that I have been cut off from for most of my life. Every time I see him hanging from one leg on his chin-up bar or hear that he got to the top of the climbing wall, I feel triumphant. Take that, obnoxious PE teachers who try to force all kids at the same pace!

When I first read Impossible, I was a little disappointed in how the tasks were completed. It seemed too easy, a little too mundane. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the "how" of the tasks were completed was not the important part of the story at all. It was the willingness to even try, to give your all, to keep going no matter how futile it seemed. And having the right supports can make all the difference in someone's ability to do that.

Here's hoping.

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