Life on the Spectrum

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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Comments on: "Why listen to autistic adults?" (1)

  1. Because neurotypicals are not annoyed by scratchy clothing labels, polyester electric shocks, loud noises or the high pitched squeaky voices of children who have been diagnosed with other disabilities and are placed together in the same classroom making ear-splitting background sound that never stops so that it is impossible to hear the teacher’s voice above their noise. Neurotypicals do not mind this and therefore cannot understand the viewpoint of a child or adult who has autism. Adults can say no it. Children cannot.

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