We can all remember difficult times in our childhood. Struggles that often make a huge impact on us even as adults, some make us stronger, some leave permanent scars, but most do both.
Now imagine growing up not allowed to be yourself. Being seen as a burden, strange, “not right in the head”, the things you enjoy being restricted, the things that stabilise your happiness and wellbeing being removed from you. Many of us have vague memories of this happening, but to many autistic adults this was a daily struggle. The embarrassed mothers, the teachers who branded them as naughty or lazy, the therapists who tried to ” normalise ” these kids. Autism awareness was rare, acceptance decades away. All help given was on the understanding that the child needs to be as “normal” as possible.
Luckily nowadays parents, teachers and therapists are gradually learning that this method is unacceptable. Without the “Wakefield effect” slowing this process down, due to unscrupulous pseudoscience salesmen, I believe we would be gaining a lot of ground.
Now I want to mention a group of people I know who suffered the above. In my eyes they are awesome, not because I want to spew some ableist shit about surviving disabilities. Or some pity party blog about how life as been so hard. They don’t want that. What they want, what they crave is for no other kids to go through all the shit that got thrown at them as kids. They want the children’s parents to understand their kids more, be proud of them, and not spew ableist nonsense about them.
There are many autistic adults on Facebook doing just this. If you have an autistic kid, make friends with them, learn from them, just like everyone else some will stay friends, others you will have disagreements with, some you will unfriend, (as humans we can’t all get on) but most will be only too happy to teach you their experiences of sensory issues, social differences, meltdowns and everything else that comes with being autistic. In my opinion, the advice you will get from them will be priceless. In exchange, treat them with the respect and friendship they deserve.
For some autistic adults though, the dedication goes further. An amazing few venture into the dark muddy depth of Autism parenting groups. The one I am speaking of had an incredible 54k members. You might think, surely parents of autistic kids and autistic adults should have an instant bond, an automatic understanding, but this doesn’t always happen. Some parents express openly their hatred of Autism, their frustration with their children, their wish for a “normal” kid or a “cured” one. This group is also full of pseudoscience salesmen ready to pounce on the vulnerable parents, talking of vaccine damage and cure via many unethical means. These are all difficult and triggering subjects for autistic adults, perhaps bringing back memories of past horror and abuse. Sometimes parents try and justify their kids attending the same therapy sessions as some autistic adults were traumatised by in the form of Lovaas ABA. Autistic adults are often silenced, or shunned, as not quite knowing what they are talking about, as they are autistic.
However we are gradually seeing a change, the hate filled autism posts, the vaccine damaged posts, pseudoscience posts getting debunked, even the language is changing. A small, yet huge in importance, group of dedicated autistic adults determined to make the world a better place for autistic children. Not for fame, not for money, not for graditude, but simply because they are good people and want to help.
Autistic Adults, thank you for all you do, I know how much you guys work at this, and as an autistic Ally I will do all I can to help too.