A word meme on a textured grey background. Below a large quotation mark is text: I see you because I have been you. Your story is my story. But there is more than one autism story. | Briannon Lee

I see you. I invite you to see me.

I see you,
Sitting in the car outside the paediatrician’s office. In shock.
Your child has been diagnosed with autism, by a health professional using a list of deficits in a manual of Mental Disorders. You have a long report about your child’s problems. All the ways they’re different to other children. All the things you need to fix. All the therapy they need to do.

I see you,
Reading late at night.
You’ll read books by Autism experts. You’ll google Autism. You might look for new treatments and read research papers.
You will read blogs by ‘Autism parents’.

I see you,
Crying with your partner/mum/best friend.
You think your child will never be happy. You will never be happy.
The news is full of parents talking about their struggles and all the hard things about ‘Children with ASD’.
You’re part of the ‘Autism epidemic’ now.

I see you,
Watching your child play.
You’re noticing now all the ways they’re different from other children. You’re thinking about all the things they’ll never do. Their future.
You’re worried. You’re working out how to fix them. You want only the best for them.

I see you because I have been you. Your story is my story.
But there is more than one autism story.

I invite you to see me,
Reading late at night.
Books written by Autistic adults. Words from Autistic people on blogs, facebook pages, twitter.
They say we are not broken. We are happy. We are neurodivergent & disabled. We have rights. We have identity, community and culture.
Words by parents who see their child with the same eyes that looked upon them with wonder the day they were born – as a unique person with value and worth, uniquely unfolding and developing. Words by other parents who are happy. Families whose lives are good. As ours is.

I invite you to see me,
Crying with my partner/mum/best friend.
Because I am fighting so hard for my children to be accepted, accommodated and supported. Because I am tired of reading about my children as burdens and problems to be fixed. Because people want to change them. Make them fit in and comply in ways they can’t/wont/don’t.
Crying for Autistic children who experience abuse, isolation, seclusion, restraint, coercion – by those who should protect them.

I invite you to see me,
Watching my children play.
They are happy. They have freedom to move as they want. They play in their own unique way. They love being outdoors and being immersed in the elements. They watch endless episodes of their favourite TV shows. Collect precious things and line them up. They make mess and make noise. They approach everything with enthusiasm.

They invite me to join them in their own ways. And I do. We are happy.

Our happiness won’t make the news.
Our autism story lacks tragedy, drama or loss. We are not newsworthy.

But we are here, and many families like ours too.
Our children are loved and accepted. They do not have to change to fit the world; we are changing the world for them.

You can be part of that change. There is more than one autism story. Create your own.

* This post is a contribution to Autistic Family Collective’s #MoreThanOneAutismStory campaign

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