A word on professionals.
I’ve been immersed in autistic community and positive autistic identity for a while now.
As an autistic person, the parent to autistic children, married to an autistic spouse, friends to other autistics.
It is my passion, it’s my business, it runs through my bloodlines and it’s my life.
It’s my normal.
So I really lose touch with how out of touch the rest of the world really is when it comes to understanding and knowing autism.
To say that it’s frustrating is an understatement, but I practice having patience because I have faith, wholeheartedly, that there is a paradigm shift as I write this, and that by the time my autistic children are autistic adults,
The world will be catching up more and more.
But there are barriers.
Let me tell you what I see..
I see proud autistic adults who share their autistic pride in support groups for parents completely shut down.
And not by the parents.
But by allied health professionals running the pages.
I see parents gathering around autistic adults in conversation with open hearts and minds to ask them all the questions they need to have answers to, so they can better understand and connect with their children.
A close friend of mine shared in one of these groups, a fantastic video on the Neurodiversity Movement.
I saw parents expressing their happiness and pleasure with a perspective of autism that is positive and bright.
And then, I saw the professional running the group comment with
“I’m sorry but this is a disorder. There is nothing positive about it.”
Before moving into the very real challenges that families face, that autistic adults do not dismiss or deny.
Let me shine some perspective on this by translating it..
Autistic person: “I am a proud autistic woman, let me show you the ways in which I bring value to the world”.
Professional: “You are nothing to be celebrated, there is nothing good about you. You are a disorder and as someone who feels challenged by your neurotype, I refuse to see anything good about you.”
Sounds dramatic right?
Not to me. Not to the autistic adult reading my worth assessed by the study and opinions of professionals.
Not to me. Not to the autistic woman who has fought her entire life to like herself, to have it intentionally challenged by a professional who is intent on not allowing me to forget how much hard work I am.
I’ve seen information shared in the same group, about the characteristics of autism in adults.
I’ve seen Mothers awakened to new realisations of their possible neurodivergence, knowing how transformative this is..
And I’ve then seen another professional from the same group comment that these are not to be taken seriously, and that mental health issues and mental illness is more likely in parents than autism.
I don’t typically seek out confrontation and aggressive engagements over social media.
I don’t attack parents or argue with other autistics.
I remain focused in my message and continue on my path.
But sometimes, something’s got to give.
And I’m human.
So I stepped up.
I defended the writer of the document on adult autism, as I know her, a fellow autistic advocate and academic.
I then left the ‘support’ group.
Once I’d left, a response was left by said professional running the group, comments were frozen to stop others from responding to her, and I was then pursued aggressively in my personal inbox through messenger by the same professional, looking for a right fight.
I don’t respond to aggression.
But here’s the damage done..
Parents willing to listen, to learn, to hear a new perspective,
By the very people in positions of trust,
Trusted to provide compassion, care and hope.
And I see it everywhere.
These are human beings.
Does that make them autism experts?
Does it make them experts on our autistic children?
If your professional fixates on the ‘disorder’ of autism,
If they correct your child at every stop and turn,
If they fail to see your child as whole and complete but requiring support,
If it feels wrong,
If your child is not responding well to their time with said professional,
Or the support they’re offering you,
Then you don’t need anyone’s permission to move on.
You don’t owe anyone anything.
Professionals are not Gods.
They are not exempt from social and cultural conditioning
They do not know more about your child, the actual human being, than you
As a parent, you are not inadequate.
The person you know your child to be
Is that person.
They are not a disorder.
That is medical terminology
It belongs in the text book.
Autistic people are human beings
We are more than a set of deficits in a text book
We are more than our challenges
We are more than people who need to be developmentally on par with everyone else.
There are wonderful professionals
Wonderful human beings.
Who will see your child as whole and complete
Who will not seek to disempower you.
Listen to your heart
Tune into your gut.
What we do today,
What we expose our children to
Will influence the development of their
Sense of self.
Despite what you may have been told at diagnosis,
Not every single child requires a plethora of therapies
Simply because they are neurodivergent; autistic.
Remember, there are thousands
Of autistic adults
Who went undiagnosed
Who did not receive early intervention
Who are living happy, productive, connected lives.
Support is imperative,
Conformity is not.
Image: Unfiltered Imagery.