So, since it’s a Autism awareness month I’ve been making a solid effort to read more about Autism, disability advocacy and things in that field. So far all it’s done is make me want to cry. Most of the articles I read I try and make from reputable organisations and authors/advocates so it’s not all tin hat bullshit. However according to many of these articles I’m irreparably damaging my child. So, in the spirit of ‘keeping it real’ let me share with you how I’m permanently damaging my child.
1. I’m treating him like he is different.
Plain and simple our son is different. He is unlike neurotypical kids his age. In some cases I have to treat him different because he doesn’t understand things the way his sister does. He needs extra explanation and sometimes he can’t do stuff like other kids his age. He doesn’t really stay away from home or sleep alone so going on school camps where he maybe can’t get home if need be is pointless and neither he, I or the school needs a meltdown. The same goes for avoiding situations that just wouldn’t work for him and while that’s treating him differently to others it’s for a damn good reason.
2. I’m not treating him like he is different.
So I’ve just wrapped my head around the fact I treat him differently is terrible for him, now I find out not treating him different is just as bad. I take into account his dislike for loud noises and lots of people but he still has to function within a world that wasn’t built with Autistic people in mind. I’d never ask him to hide his disability in a million years or be ashamed of it. Own it and be proud as fuck. What I am trying to do was help him navigate through the world the best he can and grow to be a successfully functioning human being and that sometimes means stepping outside your comfort bubble, using soap and picking up your toys.
3. I find him inspirational
Apparently this is called inspiration porn, where disabled people are put on a pedestal and seen as brave for just living every day. This is also leads to a thing called ableism where disabled people are dehumanized and able bodied people are seen as superior.
Holy Jesus fuck I don’t even know where to begin to unpack this mess. I don’t see how me finding our son inspirational damaging. I don’t stand around gawping at him in amazement because he brushes his teeth or doing his best to get his socks on but I do think it’s bad ass he just rocks along doing him. Same as I would for anyone out there that is unapologetically themselves (I have asked him and he thinks he’s amazing ). I’m also proud as fuck when he achieves goals we’re working on but I’m a Mum it’s my damn job to be proud of that, just as I would be his sister achieving her goals.
Now I realize as a Neurotypical there is privilege attached to what I say. My bipolar can be seen as a disability but we’ll ignore that for a sec. As a a parent of an autistic person I don’t think my actions should be demonized with the caveat of ‘now you know you’re doing it wrong you can do better’. I have asked Hunter what he thinks of me as a parent and he said I’m doing a great job and I don’t ever make him feel bad for being different even accidentally which is good enough for me.
I was also asked this week why I cared a lot about what these lists and experts had to say. I care because goddamn I’m trying to do the best for my kid. You pull resources from everywhere hoping to get something to stick. I’m trying to be an advocate and learn the most I can so I can help him kick ass. Then sometimes, like this week, when it’s all been a bit shit you need a boost. When the knowledge you’re a good parent isn’t enough. Some acknowledgement somewhere you’re doing your best and all you get is ‘look how much you’re fucking up your kid’. Fuckin thanks for that.