The Case for Identity-first

[Note: this post is specifically in regard to the autism community.]

“You are required to use person-first in this class. Otherwise, it will affect your grade.”

 

I am autistic, not a person with autism.

I don’t “live with” or “suffer from” autism.

Autism isn’t a roommate that eats all the leftovers from my fridge, or a cursed plague rained down upon me from the sky. It’s not a death sentence, a condemnation to a life of loneliness and disastrous consequences.

The only thing I’m “suffering from” is the lack of acceptance and respect.

Autistic isn’t a bad word.

It’s an operating system, a lens from which I experience the world around me. It’s how I enjoy each moment, embracing my own existence in a way that many others do not. It’s not a disease, no matter what anyone says.

Neurodiversity is necessary in this world, and autistic people are not less for being themselves. All of us have value – the happy flappers, those who use AAC, those of us who can hardly remember to feed ourselves half the time (shout out to my schedule chart and phone reminders). Our lives might look a little different than yours, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less meaningful. Being autistic means I can be lost in the same musical pattern for hours. It means feeling joy so intensely that all I can do is flap my hands because the excitement over seeing a butterfly is just far too much to contain inside.

Sure, being autistic means shirt tags that feel like cacti pricks. It means intense fluorescent lighting, a rush of voices in the room that leaves your head swimming. The constant desire to know where my limbs are for grounding, the need for a human guidebook. It means feeling like an alien in a world that isn’t quite suited for my functioning needs. It means that I’m not really supposed to live on my own, that friends and others check on me regularly to make sure that I’m eating and looking after myself.

That doesn’t make me any less. Instead, it makes up my existence. Living in itself is full of positives and negatives; being autistic is the same.

We exist in our own way, and we deserve to exist.

If you need person-first language to remind you that I am a living, breathing human-being, we have an issue.  By enforcing the use of person-first, you immediately make the assumption that my disability makes me less – and something that you have to separate me from in order to have any worth in your eyes. You imply that I am broken, but you’ll try to make up for it by calling me a person first. At the same time, you completely contradict my entire identity and tell me that my voice does not matter.

Working with children with disabilities in the future, my kids will not learn this.

My future kids are going to be loved. They’re going to learn that their disabilities make them unique, a beautiful boost to the natural diversity of humanity. They will learn that they are full of value – not despite their disabilities – but with the inclusion of them. I will teach them that their differences are needed in the world. In my home, office, or wherever I work some day, they will never need to feel ashamed of their existence.

In the community center I volunteer in, I take the same stance. Every single autistic child that enters that building is a precious soul who needs to be cared for and shown how important they truly are. The same applies for teens and adults, too. They are facing obstacles at every point of their lives, and we are all surviving in a world that doesn’t really take us into consideration.

In the meantime, I still have things to do.

It would appear that my opinion as a disabled person is not always valued – especially in this area of study. It’s ironic how something so nice-sounding is actually incredibly dehumanizing. I have to be honest, the requirement made me feel medicalized and as if my community doesn’t actually matter.

It makes me feel like only the “professionals” get a say, instead of the people I am meant to serve in the future. I’m struggling through college for a reason: to help future disabled children and adults to take pride in who they are and love themselves. Part of that requires to respect their community’s wishes and their disabilities. If we teach our children that they have to be separated from their disability, doesn’t that further the stigmatization? Being a good advocate requires nurturing our kids, not to make them feel negatively about their existence.

It made me feel humiliated when the class was asked to explain why “an autistic person” is obviously wrong – immediately after I had mustered up the courage to speak up and say we prefer that. I cried after I left, because I felt disrespected and my experience as being a part of the autistic community didn’t count. It was as if my autistic voice didn’t matter, and conveyed the constant, overwhelming societal routine of ‘shut up, we know what’s best for you.’ It reminded me of all the times I was told I was broken and the world doesn’t think my words have any value. Of course, the professor meant well – person-first has been pushed on people for years. 

I sent the professor several links to studies, articles, and stances to back up my feelings. The next class, he actually took the time to explain to the class how there is a movement for using identity-first. The fact that he listened absolutely astonished me, and he’s been a fantastic professor all semester.

Still, we have a long way to go.

Most people are rarely as understanding as my professor was.

We fight so hard to be accepted and to be able to exist in the world. When autistics speak, few actually seem to listen.

If my voice isn’t good enough, maybe some of the following voices are:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5545113/ : ‘The use of person-first language in scholarly writing may accentuate stigma’

https://www.thinkinclusive.us/why-person-first-language-doesnt-always-put-the-person-first/ : ‘Why Person-First Language Doesn’t Always Put the Person First’

https://autismwomensnetwork.org/failings-person-first-language/ – ‘The Failings of Person First Language’

http://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/describing.aspx – A link that describes studies and information.

https://musingsofanaspie.com/2014/06/18/the-logical-fallacy-of-person-first-language/ : ‘The Logical Fallacy of Person-First Language’

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3519177/ – ‘Person-first language: Noble intent but to what effect?’

http://aspitude.blogspot.com/2009/03/autism-first-language.html – ‘Autism-first Language’

http://doodlebeth.com/identity-first-language/ – A very informative comic

https://twitter.com/doodle_beth/status/899553495292026880 – informal Twitter poll that may be of interest.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-08/osu-sad082817.php#.WaSLL_syUzg.facebook – Disability pride and its effect on self-esteem.

http://www.autismacceptancemonth.com/resources/101-3/ways-of-thinking-about-disability/identity-first-language/ – Identity-first

As always, just keep stimming.
Especially when they tell us not to.

Explaining Autism: With Cats

Most of us have heard the saying “All cats are autistic.”

Usually it’s meant as a joke, but there is a hint of truth to it. I see a lot of behaviors in my cat that I recognize in myself. In explaining what autism is, I’ve found referencing the difference between cats and dogs to be a way of highlighting the statement of “Different, not less.”
Of course, the usual disclaimer applies: autistic people are not animals. We’re human beings. That really should go without saying, but life experiences have told me that some people need reminders in regards to our humanity.

First, meet Leia Lyta:

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A tabby cat with green eyes sits on a purple rug. She’s holding a red catnip toy.

Leia Lyta is my emotional support animal here at the university. I have PTSD with dissociative/derealization episodes, chronic depression, and a lot of other conditions in addition to my autism.  Her purpose is to help keep me stable and comforted. She also gives me routine; I have to feed her, clean the litter box, brush, etc.

Anyway, she’s going to help me explain autism. No, seriously. Stay with me here. It’ll make sense.

What is Autism?

Autism is classified as a developmental disorder, a neurological variation. 1 out of 68 children are expected to be diagnosed with autism. The predominant theory is that it is caused by genetics (considering both of my brothers are also on the spectrum, I quite agree).
People on the autism spectrum are all quite different, but there are some similar characteristics that we all share. This is where Leia Lyta comes in.

Sensory

One of the most significant traits of autism is a different experience in terms of sensory input.

We are often sensitive to light, sounds, touch, and other things. If we are startled or overwhelmed, we will react accordingly. This could mean fight, flight, and other biological responses to distress.

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My cat hiding in a paper bag with her tail poking out. She was startled by our neighbors’ music.

Sometimes different things can help with sensory regulation: weighted blankets, fidgets, and other things of this nature. Self-stimulated behaviors are what we call “stimming.”

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Leia loves to snuggle on top of my purple weighted blanket.

Stimming is just one way that we relax when we’re overwhelmed. We also do it when we’re happy, too!

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Gif of Leia kneading because she’s happy. The caption says “Making biscuits”

Autistic people love to stim, especially with stim toys and fidgets. They help us focus and regulate our senses.

Funnily enough, Leia also enjoys fidgets herself – but mostly just because she’s curious.

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Gif of Leia playing with my fidget spinner.

One of the negatives of sensory differences is what we call meltdowns – or as I call them, the absolute Worst Thing Ever. They’re not enjoyable for us or those around us. I know when I have them, afterwards I feel as if I have the flu, hit by a truck, and ran a 5k all in one. I don’t have them as much as I used to since I’ve figured out how to cope a bit better, but when I do have them – it’s not so fun. They’re very scary for me, and sometimes even a little bit messy.

The best way to stop meltdowns is to help prevent it altogether. Being attentive to the autistic person’s needs is the best way. Are they struggling with transitions? Use visual schedules, timers, and other tools to help break it down to make it easier. Is it communication? Try writing, sign language, AAC, or even the Picture Exchange Communication System (at least in the beginning; I’d recommend transitioning from PECS to AAC as they get older). Sensory issues? Be aware of what their triggers are. If it’s bright lights, try dimming them or give the person sunglasses. For noises, try noise cancelling headphones, ear plugs, or give them earbuds to listen to music instead. Have a quiet place that they can retreat to when it gets to be too much.

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This was a couple of days after I’d first rescued my kitty. A very, very messy crate – as Leia panicked when alone, and kicked litter everywhere. I had to give her a bath after this. (Worst idea.)

Repetition, Repetition…

We love routine and repetition – a lot. Echolalia, special interests, daily routines – they’re all typical for us. Several aspects of our lives can be very repetitive. While many may consider this a negative, it gives us a sense of control and comfort. In a world full of surprises, our brains need this stability.

A perfect example would be ‘special interests’ and fixations. We will think about, play, or watch the same things over and over and over.  You might find it a bit odd, but we find it strange when people don’t have them!

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Gif of Leia playing with her favorite toy – a round ‘turbo scratcher’ that she will attack for hours.

Of course, you’ll find that a lot of us love tablets, computers, and television. For some, this is a special interest in itself. A favorite television show, Minecraft, or a YouTube channel – these are all things you’ll probably see some autistic people drawn to.

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Leia is staring at an iPad and watching cartoon fish swim around.

This is also why you’ll find a lot of autistics love science-fiction, fantasy, or other fictional things.

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She enjoys watching Star Trek, especially The Next Generation and Voyager.

We also may like the same food, and might eat it every day. This isn’t uncommon, although perhaps slightly unhealthy (such as when the only thing I ate for months was ravioli). It could be due to the texture, the steps involved in preparing it, or just simply that we love it.

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Moon Pies may not be Leia’s favorite food (she’s not allowed), but she will make a persistent attempt. Very similar to me when I see pizza rolls.

Socializing

Ah, yes. The ‘fun’ part that everyone thinks of.
Typically, our social skills aren’t the best. Some of us are good at ‘masking,’ where we can kinda fake it (I am one of these people, until I hit burnout).

Sometimes our social ‘battery’ is just low and we’re not too interested. Playing and hanging out with others is quite draining! I have to pick and choose how much I can handle.

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Leia also likes to rest after socializing. In this photo, she’s snuggled with a teddy bear and hiding under a blanket.

Other times, we really do want to interact – but it’s just really difficult to understand social nuances and procedures.

A common thing seen in autistic kids and teens is a concept called ‘parallel play.’ This is when we play next to someone; we don’t always communicate with the other person, but it’s still a form of socialization. Sometimes when we’re a little stressed out, it can be good to just sit with other people and do our own thing.

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Leia sitting next to another kitty at my friend’s house. They didn’t interact much that day, other than when Leia started grooming her.

Eye contact is a big issue for a lot of us. For myself, it’s almost painful and definitely uncomfortable. I got away with it as a kid because I would read people’s lips (one of the perks of being hard of hearing). Sometimes we can focus on the conversation and the person much more when we’re not forced to make eye contact.

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Cats aren’t always too fond of eye contact either. Leia is a little distressed at seeing herself in the mirror.

People often think we’re stand-offish because we may not express things the same. We may not always enjoy hugs or like to be touched. Some of us don’t communicate verbally, or we may be a bit ‘awkward.’

Rest assured, we’re just as lovable as anyone else.

We just have our own ways of expressing affection – just as cats and dogs do! We might not do things like neurotypicals, but that doesn’t mean we’re any less valuable or worthy to love and be loved.

Our brains just work a bit different than other people’s, and that’s okay.

Executive Functioning?

Tools and Strategies

Have you ever had the feeling of walking into a room and having completely no idea what you’re supposed to do next? It’s remembering that you’ve forgotten, but not knowing what.
Or, have you ever had so many tasks that you get too overwhelmed? A task so daunting you decided to go for a lie down instead?

That’s something many autistic people have every single day.  

One of the things that is quite difficult for many autistics and neurodivergent people is something called ‘executive functioning.’  It’s the mental processing involved in making decisions, multi-tasking, organization, and getting started on tasks.  It’s not exclusive to autism, though. It happens in people with ADHD, cognitive impairments, and even mental illnesses such as chronic depression.
One of the most significant issues with executive functioning is the assumption that the person is lazy.  This is often the case when the person is a teenager- especially as teenagers are often known for their laziness! However, it can actually be detrimental to accuse the person of laziness. Many times, they already are frustrated with the difficulties of executive functioning. The scolding, in turn, can exacerbate stress on the person and cause greater difficulty in functioning.

Of course, we can be lazy too. It’s okay to be lazy sometimes; relaxing is a perfectly healthy thing to do! That’s another topic altogether.

Someone who struggles with executive functioning may have difficulty with organizing tasks. If you give them several instructions at once, they may feel overloaded and overwhelmed. They may even have trouble remembering what you told them. When this happens, they may not be able to do them at all – or only one or two. For myself, I have sat in my floor for two hours because I was trying to process my tasks for the day. My brain has to pick each step apart so I can fully grasp it, or else I become overwhelmed significantly.


Visuals and Schedules

I actually have several post-it notes around my room to remind me of important tasks, as you can see below.

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An edited collage of several post-it notes from around my dorm room. Many cover things such as eating, self-care, and chores that need to be done.

Some of these things are processes I’m actually quite good at, such as looking after my Leia Lyta. This is because cats are mostly self-sufficient, and I tend to prioritize her anyway. Cats don’t let you forget.

Other things are things I need reminders on – like brushing my hair or taking my meds. Lately, I’ve had a bit of an issue of remembering food. My body isn’t really registering it as much as it used to, which is probably not a good thing. I’m not the only person who has trouble with that, though. It’s nice not being alone, at least. Because of that, I keep Ensure drinks on hand to try and keep my nutrition stable.
(Tip: if you or your kids have issues with this sort of thing, nutrition drinks are the way to go. They’re actually not that bad once you find the right flavor for you.)

If you’re more picture-oriented, a “First, Then” board or  visual schedules are also very useful. When my brother was first diagnosed, that was often used in the household. We had a really nice binder with lots of different pictures, and it was great. It helped him transition more easily, and it helped prevent frustration a little more.  I secretly wanted one for myself, to be honest! We used them when I volunteered in the CDC classroom as well, and they were fantastic.

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A small example of a ‘First, Then’ board. This one is from a Vanderbilt ASD module – which of course, doesn’t seem to show any girls in its examples. *sigh*

For myself, I’m in the process of making several visual schedules for my dorm. I’ve got one for my morning routine, and hoping to finish making the rest soon! It might seem a little childish, but it’s really helpful to have a visual prompt and simplistic list of steps to keep me on track in the mornings. It helps me live a more independent life, which is actually something that I have trouble with.

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A visual schedule listing each step for getting ready in the morning. I made sure the images were cute – a way to make me feel a bit more cheerful as I checked off each list.

Technology

Another big help for me  these days is technology. Phone alarms and medical apps are a lifesaver, and serve as good reminders. I’m considering getting an app for visual schedules for myself too, but all the nice ones seem to cost a bit.

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A phone alarms menu and a medication reminder app menu. The medication reminder app is called ‘Round,’ if you’re curious. I’ve yet to find an app I prefer the most. (Edit: Since I last posted this, there have been several medication changes and additions.)

The alarms go off at specific times. Some are reminders for medication, while others are for eating. I use the medication app so that I can remember whether or not I’ve been taking them correctly during the past month.

Of course, even a medication/pill box can be useful – especially if you forget easily. Sometimes even a chart can come in handy!

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A poor quality photo of my medicine box. These are just the meds I can put in there. I may be upgrading it soon, actually.

There is also a daily habit app called Habitica that can be quite useful! I don’t use it anymore because they changed the format (did I mention my frustration with change?), but it’s still a good tool to look into!

Planners and Organization

As for daily planners and organization, I have several methods. My main calendar is through my phone, per the typical college student’s life.

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A side-by-side view of my two calendars I use to keep up with classes and appointments. I usually only have to put data in one of them and they sync. However, the one on the left (iStudiez Pro) also has the option to include assignments and due dates. 

Many people prefer to go “old-school” and make lists. Some find it easier to write in an agenda or personal calendar. It’s all a matter of preference, honestly. I find that writing things out also helps, as having a concise monthly view can make scheduling a bit easier. The only downside is how overwhelming all the information can be.

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My “old school” agenda that I use to keep track of all my events and appointments. Bonus: color coded!

Some people even prefer wall calendars or desk ones. I use different ones with mostly the same information. It helps me remember, but it also gives me a rough idea of how my day is going to go. With this information, I’m much less likely to have a meltdown or get too stressed during the day.

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My wall calendar! It’s somewhat incomplete, as I don’t always remember to write everything on it. Even so, it’s a helpful tool for me.

Things such as worksheets and executive functioning handouts are also incredibly useful. I went over some of them when I did the executive functioning workshop a while back. The best part is that you can use them to work out complex situations – or simply just to get a better understanding on how to keep your brain motivated and in tune with your daily activities.
If you want any of these resources, just send me a message and let me know! I can usually find printable things to help. I’d post them here, but I don’t know if I’d get in trouble for copyright issues. Let me know and I’ll do what I can to help you! I also have located slideshow presentations with more in-depth information included if needed.

And as always, just keep stimming!

‘Autism’ Parents: We’ve got a problem.

I’m going to preface this post with a specific warning:

If you utilize this post to argue that all autistic people are violent and abusive, I will personally come to your house and eat those leftovers you were saving for lunch.
Be warned. 
Be aware that this post may contain some topics that may be a little upsetting, as I’m discussing violence, abuse, and some other things that we really need to talk about.

 

‘Autism’ parents, we’ve got a really big problem. There’s an issue with the narrative, and we need to address it.
I’m writing this post not simply from the perspective of an autistic adult. It’s also coming from the view of someone who went through the same thing you are. Yes, you read that correctly.

Let me give a little background:

My little brother was born when I was ten years old. I was ecstatic! I already had a younger sister, but I was so excited to have a brother. I thought I’d relate more to him; I wasn’t wrong.

Not soon after, my mother abandoned him at our house and didn’t return.
Naturally, I was crushed. More than that, I was furious. My guardians already had enough to deal with at that point, and another child to care for would be difficult.
All that said, I wanted him with us – away from anything that could hurt him. I begged. I pleaded. I asked as hard as I could to let us keep him, to not give him back if she tried to take him.

Of course, they said yes. Immediately, I prepared myself for my duties as the protective older sister. When he was diagnosed with autism at age two,  this became far more extensive.

I would bathe him up until the week I left for college.
I measured his medications and crushed them into his favorite yogurt. (Blue, if you were curious.)
I went to his speech and occupational therapies several times a week, and practiced the things he learned. I went with him to his first day of school. Of course, I cried more than he did.
I made sure his food was perfect – french fries made just like he wanted. If he felt like it instead, he’d have a chicken fry sandwich complete with his favorite McDonald’s sauce we bought in bulk.  

When I was in middle school, autism became my own special interest.
My middle school project was about autism, complete with case studies and interviews.  I read all the autism literature I could find (mostly library books and autism parenting books), and immersed myself in the Vanderbilt paperwork. I delved into the world of IEPs, visual schedules, and even rudimentary sign language. I took notes, went to the doctor appointments, researched the medications, and read about possible co-morbid conditions.
And now, I’m still sending them resources and information on medications, papers for teachers, and going over doctor notes for him – despite being six hours away.

(Of course, I was an undiagnosed autistic girl who also needed quiet. When I wasn’t needed to do these things, I was often in my room stimming – away from the loud television and people. I wasn’t a perfect caregiver, but I did do a lot.)


All of that to say: it wasn’t easy. And that’s where I’m going with this one.

Here is where our problem lies.
And to be better caregivers, we have to address this.

I read all the time about these ‘autism’ parents who complain about how terrible their lives are. They say they’re afraid of being hurt and their lives are destroyed. Some even talk about killing their kids.

You know what?

Yes, I got hurt by him or when I was helping him. I got bit, scratched, hit, and everything else. Usually it was just him being frustrated over lack of communicating his needs, and I understood that.

I ran after him when he went out the door straight for a lawnmower, and I fell to the concrete.
I grabbed him right before he ran into a street and ended up with my arm covered in blood and scratches.
I was kicked in the head and sustained a traumatic brain injury that requires me to now use a cane, and has caused a ton of nervous system issues. I even use a wheelchair part-time due to another condition that occurred afterwards.

I’m a twenty year old college student with a quality of life considered to be equal to someone with congestive heart failure.

But you know what?

I never in a million years wanted to hurt my little brother.

My life isn’t “destroyed.” He was never a burden. I still don’t blame him. He was often overwhelmed, and had meltdowns. As an autistic person myself, I understood it – even if I didn’t know I was autistic at the time. (I suspected, but was too focused on other things.) That behavior is communication, not spite.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get better health-wise, and that’s okay. I don’t know if I’ll get to run and dance again, or if there’s worse effects to come. It’s just what it is, and I’ve accepted that.

He’s a child. It’s not his fault. He once asked me if it was, and I hugged him tight and said absolutely not – because it isn’t. That behavior, as I just said, is communication. He wasn’t trying to hurt; he was overwhelmed.
I say all this not to complain about how violent autistic people can be, but that I get it.

(For the record: autistic people are far more likely to be victims of abuse and assault. )

I know where you’re coming from, but…

That is not an excuse to harm your children.

Your child is a child. You are their lifeline. They need love and support from you.

You don’t give your babies bleach, shock them, or starve them. You don’t talk about them as if they’re literally a death sentence for you. And you sure as hell don’t decide to murder your little ones. 

And if you literally want to kill your kid, if you would rather have a dead child than an autistic one, I have news for you and I want you to pay attention very closely:

Go and get help NOW.

I’m not kidding. You need to go see a therapist. You need to go to the ER. If you’re having these thoughts, you need professional help immediately.

That’s not normal, and it’s not healthy. If you’re having thoughts of harming yourself or your child, you need to seek psychiatric help as soon as possible. Your kid deserves better. Your mental health deserves better, too.

We have the Disability Day of Mourning every year because of this. Parents and caregivers are literally murdering their children because autism is seen as the worst thing to ever happen. It’s a problem; this narrative of autism as a tragedy is killing our kids.

Hopefully, you’re trying your best. The majority of you are probably thinking you’d never hurt your child like that. You might not even notice that this is going on. Unfortunately, filicide is extremely common, and it’s only getting worse.

‘Autism’ parents: stop. Listen for a moment.

Your kids are going through a world that wants to “cure” them, force them into suffering so they can look “normal.” Your kids are going to spend their entire lives dealing with a world that is hostile to them. People try to assimilate us to save their own pride, at the expense of our own comfort, safety, and stability.
Your kid is going to go through life being told that they should be literally “treated” with electroshock therapy because of their neurology. They’re going to be told that they shouldn’t reproduce. They’re going to be told that they’re not worth having space in this world. Your kid is going to grow up one day, and they’re going to hear this and internalize it.
I know this, because I hear it constantly.

You say it’s so hard to have an autistic kid?

Well, of course it is. But you know what?

Kids are hard.
They’re going to kick, hit, pinch, and everything else. Even neurotypical kids do that. I don’t know a single kid who hasn’t bit their caregiver or thrown something when grumpy.
Some neurotypical and allistic kids can be even more violent than autistic kids. Parenting is hard stuff, no matter who the kid is. You’re raising a human being with their own thoughts, emotions, and view of the world. That’s going to be tough.

(I’ll say it again for those in the back: autistic kids are way way way more likely to be abused and hurt.)

When you have a kid, you sign up for this. You love that little one unconditionally, you protect them with all your heart. You give them support. You love that child even if they have a disability, especially when they have a disability.

You teach them that they are allowed to exist, that they are just as valuable and needed in this world like anyone else. We need all the neurodiversity in this world we can get. That’s how things get done.

You teach your child that they’re not a burden. You teach them how to say no and that autonomy is often more important than compliance. You teach them that you love them, and that they will always have someone in their corner to back them up when times are tough.

I don’t care how hard you think it is raise an autistic child. It sounds harsh, but hear me out.

Trust me, I know VERY well that it’s hard. Parenting is hard. It’s not easy, and it’s not always roses and fluffy kittens. That has nothing to do with having an autistic kid; that’s just a fact of life.

The fear of getting hurt is valid. I can attest to that, and I don’t think I can downplay that. I’ll have the side effects of that for the rest of my life.
But that behavior is communication, and you have to learn how to read it. I did.

You have to fight for better supports, for ways to make it easier on your kid – and by doing this, easier for you too. You need to go to support groups that are going to empower you and your child, remember to take a break sometimes, and breathe. Read from autistic adults, reach out to your local autism groups, and get help when you’re too overwhelmed.

The fear of autism is killing our kids. Love your children. Love yourself.
Don’t give in to that fear of burdens and nonsense that’s pushed out at you. Celebrate your child as they are.
We have to change this narrative.

Sure, it’s hard.

But you know what?
Your kid’s going to have it much harder.