When I went to law school, the ratio of males and females was about 40-60 – 40% of the class were men, and 60% were women.
Needless to say, those numbers were a big change from a century before.
The first woman to attend law school in the U.S. was Ada Kepley, and after she graduated she was not allowed a license to practice law because she was a woman.
In the 120 years since Ms. Kepley went to law school, a lot of women paved the road that I got to travel on.
I owed a huge debt to the women attorneys who had come before me. I could see how hard they had worked and I was grateful for how relatively easy things were for me because of all they had done and experienced.
When we got the Navigator’s autism diagnosis, it was a learning curve like law school all over again (except without the Socratic method).
There were no grades, no pass or fail, just the fervent hope that I was doing the best possible for my child.
The pressure to get it right was greater, though.
Law is an evolutionary process – new laws are constantly enacted, courts decide cases that interpret laws making them apply in whole new ways.
Yet in a way it is also a static process.
New law and new cases are almost always variations on a theme and it is actually very rare that a radical change in legal interpretation takes place.
In the U.S., for example, basic contract and property law concepts go back hundreds of years to British common law origins.
A lawyer can analyze new interpretations, but as a rule the underlying legal idea that is being tweaked has been around for a long time.
No so much autism.
Understanding autism and how to best support autistc children and adults is in many ways still a new frontier.
When we received the Navigator’s diagnosis, it was daunting and dismaying to learn that because of how autism manifests on a spectrum, there was no clear path of how to support our child.
We would have to find our own way.
It would have been a more difficult task if not for the experiences of other parents of autistic children – parents who had learned about the spectrum for decades – and for their willingness to share what they had learned.
As my son grew older and I began to envision his adulthood, equally helpful were the experiences of adult autistics who guided me in tailoring my parenting for him and through him.
More importantly, adult autistics were also paving the road that he would someday travel himself, ultimately making things better for him in his future.
Like the women attorneys who paved the road to, through, and after law school, those parents and adults have worked hard and as a result made things better for those of us following them.
We owe a huge debt to those who came before and helped paved this autism road we travel.
Thank you for making our journey of understanding a little easier.