It’s easy to feel scared for your kids when you realise they are Autistic. Pretty much everywhere you look in the mainstream media, on parent written blogs and in books by professionals calling themselves “Autism Experts” someone is referring to your child as disordered, a tragedy, a burden, difficult, part of an epidemic, or a problem that needs fixing. Yes, it is easy to feel scared.
I felt scared.
I felt angry.
I distinctly remember my anger at the fact the diagnosis my daughter was given included the word “Disorder”. It lasted for days. An intense anger that someone had labelled her in such a way when to me she is perfect just as she is. The Paediatrician must have sensed my discomfort, as he acknowledged it seemed a bit cruel. “You have to be cruel to be kind sometimes”. But I just think cruel is cruel. And I was angry that society looked at the differences in my daughter as inherently bad and wrong.
Fear and anger.
I went through the motions of doing all the “right things” and appearing like I was getting the “good therapy” for her. But while I was doing that I was searching. My first stop was parenting groups, to see if I could find others who were as uncomfortable as I was. I found many who were uncomfortable…. but it was their children they were uncomfortable with, rather than what society thought of them. And again I was scared. How was I going to find people who understood how I felt? All these parents wanted to do was feel sorry for themselves and the lot they had been cast, and they wanted to do that in the company of other parents.
And then I was found.
I accidentally ended up in an online group with people who were advocates for acceptance of neurodiversity. Oh what a word! I loved it immediately. Neurodiversity. Perfect just the way you are, but not necessarily what is expected. Neurodiversity. Accepted. Valued. Worth while.
I met Autistic people who helped me understand so much about my children, and who supported me in my learning. The things they said and ideas they shared gave me confidence to parent my children in ways that seem unconventional to many, but that support their needs and that accepts, values and respects their individuality.
These were the gifts my new friends gave me. And by giving them to me they also gave them to my children. I am forever grateful.