In the spring of 1981 my son, Tariq, stopped speaking and started pacing, spinning, and flapping. We now call these some of the “Red Flags” of autism. He was only 18 months old. Ever since then, I have been living and learning about autism and how families lives with this different way of being.
This April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, I gave a TEDx talk at Arcadia University on the theme of “The Big Idea.” My focus was “How autism teaches us about being human.” I spent many hours writing, memorizing, planning, and rehearsing.
Nonetheless, as I began telling my story, I was momentarily flooded with emotion. I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. The picture of me holding Tariq at 1 day old with him making eye contact, triggered something I hadn’t planned.
Regaining my balance, I went on to a somewhat different talk than pre-planned. Upon reflection, I wish I had the presence of mind to say right them and there that grief has no schedule. Like autism it’s part of our human nature.
I hope you find my talk helpful and would love hearing your reactions.