Life on the Spectrum

Archive for October, 2012

Why listen to autistic adults?

In hanging around the autism blogosphere I’ve noticed a large disconnect between autistic adults and the parents of autistic children. There seems to be very little discussion among those of us who are adults, who have grown up with autism, and the parents of the children who are currently growing up with autism and will one day become autistic adults.

I don’t know if this is because (1) the parents hope their children will be cured of autism before they become autistic adults; (2) because we adults talk about the difficulties and hardships we faced, and this distresses the parents who don’t want their children to face the same hardships; or (3) because many of us adults have accepted our autism and don’t want to be cured, while the parents are still hoping for a cure for their children.

I don’t want to go into the whole “cure” debate here, but I do want to address the second point here: that we autistic adults talk about the hardships we’ve faced, and this distresses the parents, who don’t want their children to face the same hardships.

This, to me, is the biggest reason why parents should listen to autistic adults: because we’ve been there. We’ve been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt. Most of all, we’ve survived and come out, hopefully stronger and wiser. We can tell parents, and older kids, what we’ve learned. We can say, “This is what worked for me in this situation. Maybe it will work for you too.” If there isn’t a solution, at least we can say, “I survived, and so will you.”

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