You know the stereotype…… Autistic kids like lining things up.
Well, one of my Autistic kids does, but this post is only partly about that.
In my experience, the lining objects up stereotype is one of those things lots of people use to categorise Autistic kids as different, then either make light of it ( “he’s so Autistic LOL! #youmightbeanautismparentwhen “) or complain about it ( ” I’m so tired of tripping on all these lined up toys, will she *ever* grow out of this? ” ). It’s a form of othering.
In my house, we break that stereotype. One of my Autistic kids doesn’t line things up- never has. One of my non Autistic kids used to love lining up all the dinosaurs, in groups of same kind, and did so every day for about a year. So there’s that.
We find lots of the broadly accepted stereotypes don’t fit in our house at all.
I don’t really like stereotypes. I don’t really like othering, either. All they do is separate people from each other. I don’t really like separating people based on perceived differences.
This post is about not being separated by our differences.
This is a game set up by my daughters. One of them is Autistic and the other isn’t. You can see there is a lot of lining up going on here. MissG, who is Autistic, does like to line things up, and MissK, who is not Autistic, doesn’t especially. Today MissK took MissG’s lead and this is how the game went. They had a great time. They don’t always play like this, sometimes they play in an array of things that look randomly placed and all over the room. Whatever works!
Now, I’m not going to claim that MissK was purposefully accommodating MissG’s preferences as an act of self sacrifice or anything like that. I don’t know that it was a deliberate decisions. And this isn’t a post about the stereotype of siblings putting up with so much, either.
But it got me thinking how simple it is to just be.
You see, so often people get caught up in the whole ‘Autism is bad and needs to be fixed’ dialogue. There is a perception that things like lining objects up is a sign that something is wrong and they get all worked up and worried that their child isn’t progressing like they should or playing the right way. But, why?
What is wrong with a bit of object organising? Really? Why does it matter? Can we not just let our kids be?
Can we not just let them play, and process and organise the way they want to? It’s what we do as adults, and we get upset if someone disrespects us by saying we shouldn’t.
Our kids are people, just as we are: do they not have the same rights? Why can’t we drop the stereotypes and perceptions and just let our Autistic kids be, in their own unique ways?