I am honored to be guest posting today at The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. Please join me there as I revisit my days – or, well, day, really – as a guest lecturer at MIT.
A couple of years ago, I had a pretty incredible opportunity. I’d very recently found my voice as an advocate for my beautiful daughter, then just five years-old, and so many like her who struggle daily with the challenges of autism. I had spoken publicly just once before, yet I found myself being asked to guest-lecture to a group of prospective neuro-psychs at MIT.
I was terrified, but I knew there was no possibility of saying no. What follows is the post that I wrote about the experience.
I share it here for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I’d be hard-pressed to believe that I am the only one who needs the reminder that as parents, our experiences with our children are just as valid and valuable as the knowledge gained by scientists in a lab – no matter how esteemed or revolutionary their work might be. As much as we all might know that, time and again I see our self-confidence eclipsed by insecurity when we find ourselves sitting opposite imposing desks behind which hang lab coats and multi-lettered degrees.
I also share it because I think that it’s vital to keep reminding the world that when it comes to our precious children, perception is everything. I believe that we as their parents must continually push those who have the power to either propel our children forward – by fostering their gifts and working to fully understand and leverage their unique perspectives – or to put them in boxes of their own design because their imaginations are too damn limited to see beyond convention.
It is up to us to fight for the former and steadfastly refuse to accept the latter.
So, when MIT called, I went…