A few days ago I was asked whether I loved autism or hated autism. I said that I don’t hate autism, and I don’t love autism. The person who asked me this question then asked what I might say to someone who hated autism, especially their child’s autism or their own autism.
My reply was that autism doesn’t care if you hate it. Autism isn’t a person. Autism doesn’t have feelings, and it’s not going to go away just because you hate it.
Hating autism isn’t productive. I can certainly understand being frustrated by autism, being annoyed by autism, being tired of autism. I can understand how frustrating it can be when autism prevents you from doing something or makes it difficult to do something that non-autistic people find easy to do.
However, I believe that hatred is poison. Hatred is not productive. Hatred doesn’t hurt autism, but it may hurt the person doing the hating, and even worse, it may hurt an autistic child. You see, a child isn’t going to understand that it’s the autism being hated. The child will think that he or she is the one being hated.
I have always said that autism is an integral part of a person, that there is no separating the person from the autism or the autism from the person. If you hate autism, then you are hating something that is a part of a person’s identity. If I hate autism, then I am hating a part of myself, and I don’t want to hate a part of myself. If I had an autistic child and hated the child’s autism, then I would be hating part of who my child is.
I won’t tell people to not get frustrated or angry or just plain fed up with the effects of autism on themselves or their children. I will ask them to stop hating. Stop using the energy for hatred and turn it to something more productive, like working with an autism therapist on the things that make you frustrated, angry and fed up.
I also think it’s okay to vent. Venting is a way of letting off some of that negative energy, especially if you vent to people who understand. That’s one way in which the internet is helpful to autistic people and to parents of autistic kids. We can find others in similar situations and vent to them, and they will understand.
So please, don’t hate autism. I’m autistic, and I don’t want you to hate me. Don’t make your children think you hate them, either.