Today as part of our ongoing celebration of #100DaysOfHomeEd and our self-directed learning path to #HappilyAutistic, I want to talk about the controversial topic of ‘autism parents.’
What are they?
It is a term that began as a hashtag #AutismParent. Honestly, if you searched this blog or very old Tweets, you might find me using that term myself. I could perhaps take them down, but I prefer to leave them so that readers can watch our transformation.
The problem with that community is that much of it was whiny-ass, poor-little-me, why did this happen to my child, crap. Autism is not about the challenges that their little human must face and struggle with everyday, every moment. It is about them. About how much harder their lives are. How tough they have it. It is about getting maximum sympathy.
It is also about ‘grieving.’ Grieving for the ‘normal’ child they did not get. As if any of us are guaranteed such as thing. Having a child is a lottery. Admittedly, most parents are winners – in that they get the ‘prize’ they expect. But even then, ‘normal’ parents of ‘normal’ children face challenges and difficulties too. Especially in our modern world. That’s just part of the deal. But #AutismParents believe they were entitled to that.
#AutismParents focus on ‘normalizing’ their child. Doing whatever it takes to transform the child they were given into that child they wanted. Whether that is through abusive and manipulative therapies such as the largely discredited ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis – doesn’t the name just say it all) or the dangerous internet cure of bleach enemas. Nothing is too extreme.
This community has come head-to-head with its own products – the grown-up offspring of those practices. The #ActuallyAutistic community has been vocal opponents of such parenting practices. Eloquently speaking to the pain of enduring those therapies, hearing the way their parents speak about them as if they are not even human, and ultimately growing up feeling unwanted and unloved. Their fight is a righteous one. Unfortunately, the battles and war is a nasty one.
I am both a parent of an autistic child and #neurodivergent myself.
In fact, it was @PanKwake’s struggles to compensate for her sensory processing and communication challenges that forced me to examine myself. For that and so much more I am eternally grateful to her. She teaches me so much about life, myself, and this world every day. I am privileged to have the honor of bringing this unique treasure into this world. I am humbled to have any part in mentoring or guiding her. And I celebrate her life and autism. Not as my enemy or hers, but as a unique part of who we are.
But why this diversion from home ed?
I don’t believe it is. Because for me the number one issue with those #AutismParents is…
They Underestimate Their Children.
But they are not alone. Most parents do. Even home ed ones.
Somewhere along the way we got this idea that being older automatically makes you wiser. It does not.
Sometimes the deepest wisdom is found on the playground. And the most destructive and childish behaviors in boardrooms, doctor’s offices, and the halls of government.
In some ways, I see my autism like that pair of glasses that Rowdy Roddy Piper found in the cult classic, They Live.
I love my glasses. I love that @PanKwake had hers as well.
The thing is that most autistic children have their own. They see the world, schools, and their parents for what they are. They refuse to buy the same old lies that society has been selling for millennia.
Just look at Nobel Prize nominee, environmental advocate, world changer, and proudly autistic Greta Thunberg. She exemplifies what I am talking about. She had stood before the United Nations and met with scientists and world leaders. She has also been dismissed, vilified, and abused in the media.
One of the accusations was that this ‘poor autistic child’ did not know what she was doing. She was just being used by others as a front. That goes to the heart of what I am talking about.
Our kids ain’t stupid.
Far from it. They see things more clearly than we do. Then again, perhaps, once long ago in another life, we saw things more clearly too. Until society and schools beat that out of us.
The thing is…
This generation refuses to be pushed aside or put in ‘their’ place.
Perhaps, the best thing that we can do as parents, whether we are #AutismParents or autistic parents or neurotypicals, is get out of their way. Let them lead. Honestly, given the state of this world, could they do much worse?
And that is the heart and core of self-directed learning. Trusting that your child will learn what they need, when they need it, and in the way that works best for them.