“Suffering” Parents and Dehumanizing People on the Spectrum

There is a tendency for people on the spectrum to be portrayed as burdens to their families in the media. Sometimes this is the angle of the journalist reporting a story, and other times, it comes from the voice of a parent. Sometimes this narrative can even attempt to justify parent or caregiver murder of someone on the spectrum. Unfortunately, this portrayal has damaged public perception of autistic people, and many on the spectrum have spoken out against it.

He’s Going to Make It: A Story of Autism Perseverance and Acceptance

Individuals on the spectrum shouldn’t have to fight to survive and function each day. I’ve heard individuals on the spectrum often speak about the exhaustion of managing their schedules each day because they are trying to live in a world that isn’t always aware of and sensitive to their needs. Jodie Van de Wetering, an autistic writer from Australia, explained this to me once, saying,

“It is over and above what a neurotypical person would need, and it is disheartening sometimes that I need three timers, a whiteboard and endless reminders and checklists to achieve what other people seem to be able to do with nothing more than a slim diary. But it’s not about doing what other people do, or looking sleek and elegant. It’s about getting the job done, and this is what I need to do that.”

This reminded me of how my son fought for survival after being born 3 months early and the subsequent obstacles he has faced with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and autism. This week I wanted to share a personal essay I wrote almost 4 years ago about how my son had been putting up a daily fight to survive and then develop after his extreme premature birth. He hadn’t yet been diagnosed with autism, but the specialists were already swarming with predictions about his future. Writing this was one of the first steps to understanding the variety of different ways autistic people experience the world and beginning to work towards supporting their needs and advocating for autism acceptance.

Enjoy!

A Case Against Retesting for Autism

retesting for autism

Are you wondering if you should get your child retested by a psychologist? You are not alone. Many parents of autistic children and autistic individuals themselves consider taking a second test to see if their symptoms still fall under the diagnostic criteria for autism. If an individual feels that he or she has been misdiagnosed, a reassessment may be a proper tool for identifying the accuracy of a diagnosis or determining a more appropriate diagnosis. However, I would caution parents against seeking out reassessments for their children in an effort to get rid of a diagnosis or a stigma attached to it.

Teaching Siblings of Children with Autism to be Disability Advocates

girls-946288_1280Parents want their children to grow into confident, caring, and capable adults who respect everyone, including those with disabilities. In families with a disabled sibling, parents often additionally encourage acceptance of differences in a more personal and immersive way than those without one. The challenges of devoting individual time to each child’s personal development is coupled with extraordinary opportunities to teach disability acceptance and advocacy. This article discusses the unique power siblings have as disability advocates and outlines 6 tips for helping your other children learn to advocate for their siblings and others on the spectrum.

Autism Wars: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

autism wars

Parents of autistic children are at war. Autism tends to produce polarizing supporters, perhaps because of the spectrum of symptoms. One major argument comes from parents of “higher-functioning” autistic children advocating for neurodiversity and even the perspective of embracing autism as a “gift” while parents of more severely disabled or “lower-functioning” autistic children insisting that autism is no “gift” but rather something they would shed in a second if they were given the option. Unfortunately, this debate has been as much in the public view as information about the complexities of autism itself.

Inject Autism Acceptance Into Your Awareness Campaign

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Add Acceptance

 An Important Addition

“Awareness” is a vague, hackneyed noun that every supporter of any cause in the world touts as their primary advocacy goal.

But what does it mean to be more aware of autism? Or breast cancer, or childhood leukemia, or poverty, or heart disease? Knowing that someone suffers doesn’t mean that much unless people are compelled to act. There must be a secondary agenda beyond awareness.…