Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Acceptance and Diversity

I'm incredibly fortunate to be sheltered in groups that work to support my son as he is and that work to include adult autistic people and perspectives.  I have learned so much from these groups, in particular from adult autistics who have been where Flynn is today. 

I'm very grateful for these sheltering communities, but it's always a painful shock when someone intrudes on a space I consider safe with attempts to impose "expert" viewpoints, which, to me, are both incredibly offensive and truly harmful.

This . . . idea . . . that we can or even should be working to "cure" a child's "symptoms" of autism, in other words, to reduce or eliminate stims, to increase eye contact despite its discomfort, to remove patterns of focus or intense interest . . .  This idea is still powerful in our community. 

A lot of people think they know what is best for our kids, or even believe that they know our kids better than we do, simply because they have studied autism and are "experts." 

Anyone can call themselves an expert.  I would not presume to do so, but here's what I know as a parent:  forcing an autistic kid to try to conform to a neurotypical ideal of "normal" is actively harmful.

Work to provide your child with positive assistance in communication and in understanding peer interactions. Work to reduce behaviors that could be actively harmful to others.  These things are fantastic.  They are not antithetical to autism.  The viewpoint that autism is a challenge to rise out of or overcome. . .  This is neurotypical privilege. Stop it. 

My child, his manner of thinking, his diverse perspective, is equally valuable to any other child's.  His neurology is no worse than yours.  It may lead him on a different path from you or me, but that path is only different, not less.

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