Pride has some really mixed reviews.
Not only does it make it into headliner top sins as one of the seven deadly, but it's also one of the most effective tools in the liberationist's toolbox. How's that for mixed messages?
In many religious traditions, pride becomes a sin when the prideful imagines him or herself as more important than god — leaving no place for grace. But for the contemporary social activist pride is vital: black pride ("Say it loud, I'm black and proud."), gay pride, and autistic pride are just a couple of examples of the liberationist pride—pride as the antidote to the shame heaped on those deemed different, or those targeted for exploitation.
So it seems that we're talking about two different kinds of pride here. Some languages and more nuanced than English and distinguish between the two senses of pride; for example, in French, self-respect is fierté and vanity is orgueuil.
Self-respect is what we're talking about today, on Autistic Pride Day: that antidote for the shame and abuse heaped on those who are deemed different.
And what of parental pride?
At least in our culture it's expected that parents ought to be proud of their offspring. But for autism parents, parental pride can be hard-won, with multiple shame and blame heaped on us. On the microlevel there's the "can't you control your child" looks of strangers during the meltdown to assertion that "your child has no manners" during the social snafu. And on the macro-level of theory there's the refrigerator mom hypothesis of yesteryear and the genetic "defects" theories of today.
Certainly, as Sweet M declined to be part of her school musical performance in the spring and sat out the spotlight during her classes' publishing party this past week, my parental pride was dinged, but only ever so slightly so. Perhaps that's because I got to come back here, to Autism's Edges, to brag about her accomplishments this year — to share my pride in her achievements among people who know how hard won her victories have been, even when you don't know her personally.
For me, that's a place of grace, made possible by all of you. So thank you.
P.S. Sweet M and I are also proud of our fire escape garden, which this year has daisies, petunias, thyme, mint, chives, basil and some snapdragons and morning glories that haven't quite come in yet . . . Just imagine what we could do if we ever got a backyard!
Keywords: autism • Asperger's Syndrome • ADHD • learning disabilities • speech-language disorders • special education • parenting