An open letter: To the parent who denies my Autism
All that you deny in an Autistic adult, from the presentation of their Autism to their diagnosis itself, is what so many of you long to see in your children…so why do you expend the unnecessary amount of energy attempting to dismiss the very real experiences of the Autistic adult? Like myself?
Let me rephrase this: too many of you will look at someone like myself and deny that I struggle at all. Or minimize whatever weaknesses I may have because you view Autism through the scope of your (limited) experiences that dictate that I am a contradiction to what you know about Autism. All that you know tells you that I’m an outlier. A myth. Not real. And your child could never be me one day.
But then I wonder, why even bother putting your children through the therapies, the social skills groups, the medications, etc.?
Because you are doing what you can to make it so that your child can live to their fullest potential and navigate this life as they are. And just as I do.
This is exactly what I do. And therapies, social skills groups, medications, etc. is how you are able to sit at your computer, digesting these words that I typed out specifically for you. I wouldn’t have been able to do this or any of the other work that I do if not the therapies, medications, etc.
I am not less Autistic. I am not not Autistic at all.
I am Autistic.
Like your child, but not like your child.
I was once a child. An Autistic child. This is an experience I will share with your child, though I won’t know exactly what they are going through. I know my limitations in this area and I acknowledge them. I could never know your child more than you do as their parent. No one could ever know mine more than I do. But what I do know is that, I was once a child…who grew to be an adult…I was Autistic then.
And I’m Autistic now.
That doesn’t change because I don’t fit your profile of what Autism should be. You’re measuring your child’s progress and potential by who they are now, when they have so much life to live. They have so much growing to do. Humans never stop learning, regardless of neurotype. We are lifelong learners. Today, this is your child. Tomorrow, they will be another. And you will help them reach new heights, but you do not have to pull me down to do so.
Too many of you think that because I can speak, type, use a computer, advocate, read, etc. that I couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to be Autistic. Or even be Autistic at all. Too many of you read these “fluff” pieces on Autistic lawyers, congress members, pageant winners, etc. and think the same. You will either deny our diagnosis outright, or label us “high-functioning” which in my opinion is just a low-key way to deny my diagnosis, because if you are denying my struggles, the very things that garnered this diagnosis in the first place, then you are denying my placement within this spectrum.
It’s often assumed I have it together, and that could be further from the truth, but I made the very deliberate decision that my social media presence dictate that I share my life in a way that is both respectful to me and my family. I am here to help guide others on their journeys, not connect my struggle to another. I will not be bonded with another through a struggle fellowship.
I have my difficulties. I have my challenges. I have my struggles. And they keep me from doing so much and accomplishing so much. But I do my best. And I do my best every single day. You might not know my full story, but you have to know there is a world of Autism out there that doesn’t look like yours. Or your child’s. Please respect that. Doing so does not take away anything from you, or your child. But you will gain so much if you welcome us all.
And while you don’t fully know my story and should accept me anyways, I do not know yours, and I accept you anyways. You know I am Autistic, I told you as such. This should be enough for you. You know that I was once a child, like yours. This should be enough for you.
You should know that our parents also longed for the day we would have friends, hold conversations, was potty-trained, dressed ourselves, fed ourselves, used a computer, had a family, etc. We could have very well been your child, as a child. Remember who your child is today, won’t be the same child tomorrow. Who I was as a child is not the same as who I am now.
It’s okay to disagree with me or any other Autistic adult, I don’t always appreciate the approach many of us can have with parents of Autistic children. And that’s okay. We aren’t a monolith. I don’t just side with Autistic people because they are Autistic. I side with people. Period.
But what is not okay is to take whatever disagreement you may have to deny their diagnosis or decide that they don’t fit your version of what Autism should be and should look like.
You would not want that done to your child, so why would you want to do it to someone else? You don’t want someone to dismiss the very real challenges your family faces. Please do not do this to another person and their family.
Let’s lead with kindness today, tomorrow, and forever.
Open hearts and minds are a beautiful thing. Let’s grow together. And love one another.
Lead with love,