domingo, 13 de janeiro de 2013

Chapter 2 : The beginning without an end

Chapter 2 : The beginning without an end  

In my adulthood, my problems with food, or at least the lack there of, had already gotten much better.  I went through some difficulties, just as I still do, but nothing compared to when I was a child.  I had already become an English teacher and taught in various schools, but one in particular was something special.  It's a school located downtown where I grew up and it’s a place where young-adult students liked to meet up as well as meet other students.  I had multiple interesting semesters of teaching there and I had excellent relationships with my students.  
            It was in front of this school that Xadu (Andre), one of my favorite students at that time and one of my best friends even today, introduced me to his best friend, Alexsander.  Yes, Alexander is eight years younger than me, and no, at this time we did not begin to date.  Alexsander has never been one of my students; he studied in a different city. Besides, I never had a relationship with a student, but, from that point forward we were always friends. I have always had a great friendship with that group. We laughed a lot, went out together, hung out at each others’ houses, played the guitar and sang together, but we never imagined that our group of friends would help create the happiest marriage in the world! 
            About five years after we were introduced, Alexsander and I suddenly fell in love. No one knows how to explain it. Not even we have been able to. If you asked who made the first move... You'd find out that neither one of us knows who started to like whom first, however, we believe we fell in love together. Some things only God knows.
            We always talked about everything in our lives, aside from the difference in our ages, I have never learned so much with a person like I have learned with him.  Everything he has taught me as a person will always be with me. To tell you the truth, I believe we learned from each other. He learned to persevere and go after his objectives. Also, to have maturity and establish goals. To value the little that we have and to thank God for everything that He has given us. No matter how much, there is always something to be thankful for. I learned to love those around me more. To forgive and to be more patient with others. I learned that forgiving is a lot more important than revenge and that it isn't necessary to have resentment and grief over things in the past. I learned what it means to have tolerance.  I learned that those who I judge to be wrong are, in all actuality, people that need me to learn that when you get tangled up in deciding who is right and who is wrong you end up pushing people away. I learned to smile and what it means to burst into fits of laughter - the kind that hurt your stomach and make it so you can't breathe. I learned to love and to be loved.
            When I introduced him to my dad it was very strange. Yes, I say strange because this is a good way to describe the relationship of my father with the world. He never talks to people; always keeping to himself while looking into the distance.  One person who used to come around our house sedulously thought, for three months straight, that he was mute, but never had the courage to ask me. They thought it would upset me to bring up that subject because I had never said anything. (neither had my dad!).
            The sister of one of my sister in-laws thought he was blind because anytime he spoke it was very little and when he spoke he always looked away; directing his attention to the ceiling and the walls. One day, she was alone in the living room with him and considered making faces at him, certain that he wouldn't see, but she began to sympathize with him and thought about how he got around so well alone without hitting the furniture inside the house. When she discovered he wasn't blind and told us about it, we almost died from laughter.  
            My father never engaged himself with any of my friends.  When me or my sister would bring a boyfriend home, or even my brothers with their girlfriends, he was very limited in shaking hands and made faint sounds that we could understand as "how you doing?" Well, when my dad looked at Alexsander and said "Hey, nice to meet you. So it’s you who will give me a grandson?" - he smiled real big and repeated out loud: "ah, so it is you who will give me a grandson. That's wonderful!" - Just imagine us standing there with our mouths wide open.
            We always thought my dad was a bit sensitive, but Alex didn't have any idea and sat there without knowing what to say.  Four months after, I came strolling into the house and announced:
            - Dad, we have a surprise for you!
            His response, before I could say anything:
            - Woah, I’m having a grandson!!!!
            That really was his response.

domingo, 30 de dezembro de 2012

A little anamnesis

Chapter 1: A little anamnesis

            I remember my semi misfit childhood perfectly. Parents that constantly argued and many siblings living in a one-bedroom house (there were six of us).  We passed through a multitude of financial necessity and constantly received donations from various churches, protestant as well as catholic, which allowed us to have something to wear as well as to eat.  There was a very difficult time in my life in which my mother used to bring the left over soup from the school she used to work at for us to eat.  Since she only came home at nights, sometimes we would go throughout the entire day without anything to give us the nourishment we needed. This tortured my parents.
            One day, I found out that the weekly farmers market nearby our house there would be leftover fruits and vegetables that the vendors would throw out because they had no way to keep them for the next day’s sale.  I decided to go and gather whatever was left on the ground. In order to get the most food possible, I went along in a manic frenzy separating the rotten fruit and vegetables from the ripe.  At the end of the day, I wasn’t the only person there to grapple for the scraps.
            When I arrived back home, it was a feast with my younger siblings.  We had cassava, part of a watermelon, zucchini and squash.  I patiently washed everything and separated what I could salvage.  Afterward, I whipped up a delicious stew and we ate a lunch fit for kings and queens.  We even had a piece of watermelon for dessert! The best part was that we had enough for supper later on.
            When my mom came home and could smell the food that had been made she asked:
            “Wow, looks delicious! Who gave us all of this?”
Full of pride I responded:
            “I grabbed it at the farmers market, mom!”
            “Grabbed? What do you mean by “grabbed”? – She already sensed something peculiar about my story.
            “Well, one of my friends from school told me that at the end of the farmers market there is always something good leftover.  So, I went and I snagged as much as I could.”
            I thought she would swell with pride over what I had done but the look of deception and embarrassment that radiated from her eyes will be with me forever. She gave me a scolding I will never forget and forbade me from going back there again.
            I’m very sincere in admitting that during that time I couldn’t understand why she would do that and I was very angry with my mother because she found nothing prideful in what I had done. Today, I understand, and I believe she must have suffered a lot as well. To know that her kids were grabbing “garbage” at the farmers market to feed themselves and that those who witnessed us doing it would be making all types of judgments, couldn’t be something easy to swallow.
            In short, I decided to be someone in life, and I promised myself that my kids would never have to do the things I had done. I studied all of the time and was admitted into an excellent university without having to take a preparatory course (which is common in Brazil)[1]. I majored in two different areas at the same time (back then it was already difficult to major in one!) and I looked to become as specialized as possible in my profession.  Today, I have a master’s degree in Dialogic Literature, I am an English Professor, I teach Portuguese to foreigners, I do translations and consulting as well. Still, I want more.  I never want to have to go through what I did when I was growing up.
            Aside from all the difficulty, we were united in our home and we had, to the extent possible, the care of our parents and mutual support.
            Taking my difficult childhood into account, it is strange that I have always had the desire to be a mom; especially if having children meant that they would experience the same things that I have. I remember one time when I was around eight years old, I turned to my mom with a pillow underneath my shirt and began to play and pretend that I was pregnant. “Look mom”! The only thing I heard was my dad’s yell telling me to stop doing that because I was too young to think about being a mom.  I took the pillow from beneath my shirt, but the idea never left my mind.
            My husband had the childhood that anyone could have asked from God.  He had parents who were always there for him, his brother and his sister as well as an uncle who constantly pampered them.
            Hasn’t it been said that opposites attract?

[1] In Brazil, it is common to get prepared taking a “preparatory course” (Curso Pré-Vestibular) before entering a good university due to the intense competition amongst eligible students looking forward to furthering their education. 

sexta-feira, 14 de dezembro de 2012

What is it like to be autistic? Could it be as though you are in your own world?


What is it like to be autistic? Could it be as though you are in your own world?

Autism is mainly characterized by the introspection of an individual and the difficulty that they have in demonstrating their feelings towards to society; the way they interact directly with the world that surrounds them, and how each counteracts the other. This incapacity to relate with their surroundings, the fact that it can happen at various levels, is what makes many classify autistics as “being in their own world”.
            Therefore if you decide to read this book you will embark on an "autistic" adventure because you will be closed inside your own world of solitary reading in which you will only "interact" with the characters of this book. It doesn’t matter if there is noise around you while riding public transportation, at school, in your neighborhood or in the world about you while reading the book. You will want to pay attention to the reading and not interact with those close by. But, if someoone interrupts you with something that interests you more than this book, won’t you only tune out only a little of the story?
            One day, I woke up as an autistic child’s mother and, fearless to face the unknown, I believed I would bring my son back. Through a lot of struggle and learning I believed I would rescue my son from the deepest depths of darkness. I believed that even though he was in "his own world," as I had been told, he was born into the world in which I live so I would like him to be a part of it. Selfishness? I think only love...
Maybe you feel that this is a self help book, a romance, a religious text or anything along those lines. Maybe you will identify with one or more of the characters or, on the contrary, you won’t identify with any of them.
            The fact is this is a story of a boy who was born more than once because his family believed that it was possible.  Some people call it a miracle, a resurrection, coincidence or even craziness.  It doesn't matter what you believe, just be ready to view a miracle.  To be honest I wouldn’t believe in it myself if all of this hadn't happened to me , my son, my family and our friends who have taken this journey with us. It's a story within a story that has changed so many lives. A story that sounds unreal, but one that can change your life and all those around you, if you just allow it to do so.

quinta-feira, 6 de dezembro de 2012

This blog was created to share the experiences we have had with our son, Nicolas.

Nicolas was born on February, 26 - 1999. When we found out he was autistic, it changed our lives, for the better, forever. We have never been the same since then. We can only thank God for having him.

We wrote a book telling our story, in Portuguese (our native language) and now I'll try to share with you our experience in English.

You're welcome to embark on this journey with us.

Anita Brito (Jandira, São Paulo/Brazil)

My son WAS autistic -  The true story of a boy who was born autistic and has been learning to live  in two worlds 
Original language: Portuguese
Currently being translated to English by our dear friend Marcus Doane. We will always be grateful.