In the ongoing dialogue around the needs of Autistic people, I see a pretty consistent divide.
There is a group of people saying that Autistic people need to be put in therapy or treatment to ease their symptoms, and that it would be good if there was a way to cure or prevent Autism.
And there is a group saying they don’t and it wouldn’t.
There are also two phrases I see consistently.
Autism Community. Autistic Community.
Generally speaking, those who say Autistic people need to be put in therapy or treatment to ease their symptoms, and that it would be good if there was a way to cure or prevent Autism are part of the Autism community.
Generally speaking, those who disagree are part of the Autistic community.
This next bit is important.
Parents, please realise that you are part of the Autism community.
Your child is part of the Autistic community.
I mention this because I keep seeing people who are part of the Autism community speaking out as if they have the right to say what the Autistic community needs. I wish they would stop. You don’t get to say what a group of people needs unless you are part of that group. The only time it is alright to speak on behalf of a group of people is if they have told you what they want and asked you to speak with them. It is possible to speak with the Autistic community if you are asked to, but that doesn’t make a person part of the Autistic community.
In my experience, Autistic people do not want to be cured. They do not want to be fixed. They do not want to be expected to appear “normal”. They do not want large organisations who don’t listen to them to speak for them. They do not want parents who agree with said large organisations to speak for them.
Parents, I have something to say to you.
There is a pretty good chance that your child will agree with the adults of the Autistic community when they grow up.
So before you go around spouting the truth of what the autism community thinks, and patting each other on the back for your advocacy, you might be wise to first listen to what the Autistic community wants.
Your child is a part of that community.
As they get older they will know you have actively stood against their community.
They will know you stubbornly refused to listen.
They will know you were part of what causes the problems they face.
Parents, I have something to ask you.
Please, stop framing what you believe the autism community wants as what is right for the Autistic community.
Autistic people can do that for themselves.