Things I Type at Parents

Things I’ve typed at parents during the first half of today:

1. “Change society, not your child.”

2. “Your daughter is who she is partially because she is autistic. By saying ‘the person she is with autism, not just autistic’ you’re also saying ‘the person she is with femaleness, not just female’ and a litany of other things. Autism is the filter through which we experience our lives and affects every aspect of it, all day… every day. Not one thing we do, say, hear, see, smell, taste, or touch isn’t influenced by our being autistic.

Please don’t diminish the role being autistic plays in your daughter’s life. Nobody is _just_ autistic, just as nobody is just any one trait which makes them who they are. However, certain traits are pervasive in every aspect of our lives and being autistic is one of them. Love her & who she is… inclusive of being autistic, not despite it.”

3. “A label or diagnosis does not mean anything with regard to capability. Your son has his entire life ahead of him. He has unlimited potential to fulfill his dreams, just like every other child. Nobody can predict the future or someone’s ultimate outcome in life. Allow him to chart that course as needed, just be there to help navigate and advise. Your support is his biggest asset, aside from the belief he can do anything he puts his mind to.”

———————

Things I’ve typed at people this afternoon, in comments on an article regarding a boy who learned the heimlich maneuver from watching SpongeBob and saved one of his classmates by performing it… and the hero kid just happens to be autistic…

1. “Why does it matter that the kid is autistic? Can we focus on the fact the kid is a hero, NBC? We autistic people aren’t stupid or incompetent. Please stop making it seem like a huge deal that we can… *gasp* LEARN THINGS! 😮”

2. “We are not ‘suffering from autism’ – it’s not a disease, nor does it cause anyone to suffer. It is a legitimate neurological difference in how the brain processes sensory input/output. Do social constructs set up for neurotypical people cause us to suffer? Yes. Does this put us at a disadvantage? Yes. Do we have to work harder to adapt to society’s expectations? Yes.

Please don’t try to claim that everyone is on the spectrum, because that simply isn’t true. By doing so, you diminish the adaptations and hard work we, who truly ARE autistic, have to deal with every day in order to function and thrive in a world not necessarily set up for us to do so.

I am autistic just as I am female. I do not have femaleness. I cannot leave ‘my autism’ at home, nor will I never be not autistic. By saying I’m someone ‘with autism’ you infer that it is something which will be or can be changed. Nope. It is a filter through which I experience every aspect of life and affects every aspect of it, all day… every day. Not one thing I do, say, hear, see, smell, taste, or touch isn’t influenced by my being autistic.”

(The above quote was typed in response to someone who said: “I hate how people call people suffering from autism ‘autistic’ – why can’t they say ‘suffering from autism’ ? They don’t refer to people with other conditions like that- they always treat people who have autism like idiots-They don’t seem to realise we are all on the autism spectrum- it is part of the human condition” …and though I really hope that comment was satirical, I’m scared that it’s not.)

3. “Autistic people aren’t stupid. We are human. We have empathy. We can learn things and do heroic things. It doesn’t make us any more heroic than anyone else. He is a hero. His neurology has nothing to do with that. It’s like saying ‘Child with Hispanic heritage saves classmate by learning something from SpongeBob!’ or ‘Child with femaleness saves classmate by learning something from SpongeBob!’ …his being autistic has absolutely NO bearing on this situation. We’re humans. Stop acting shocked that we can perform tasks and learn things.”

4. And, of course, someone had to jump in with: “We see what you are saying, but there are some severely autistic people who are not in as good a shape as you. I would hold the ridicule until we see the hero.”

To which I wrote: ” What exactly do you know about my life or what ‘shape’ it is in? I’ll wait.

OHHHH… you assume that because I can type, as a means to communicate in my mid-thirties, I must be okay? Meanwhile, I live with my mom, can’t work a ‘real’ job (thanks to severe social aversion and anxiety issues due to years of bullying & abuse by peers and others as a child), am partially non-verbal, and have years of therapy under my belt… not to mention severely diminished executive function capacity. Care to continue making assumptions?”

…and it’s only 2:38PM.