Autistic people should . . .

. . . be heard.

It has been over a year since my son received his formal diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. When my husband and I were told, I cried.

I cried because I didn’t know what autism is. Sure, the doctor explained it, but she did so in terms of the things that Philip couldn’t do. That was, after all, how he had been diagnosed, by cataloguing the developmental milestones he had missed combined with the behaviors that aren’t “typical.” So, while I understood that Philip’s brain works differently, I could only see all of the problems that this would cause. So, I cried.

I cried until I remembered that Philip is a beautiful child. “Look at those long eyelashes,” the cashiers will say. “You’re son is adorable,” my blog readers will comment. And then I see him, when he is smiling or rocking to music or concentrating on a toy or after his bath when his hair is neatly combed, and I marvel at how handsome he is.

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Look at that face –how can I not love and accept him?

I began to learn what I could about autism. I watched documentaries, read articles and blog posts. At first, I read everything. That’s the way I do it: research a subject until I know as much as I can.

As I read, though, I realized I needed to make a choice. My first option was to fix my attention on learning about the possible causes of autism, to focus on the stories of parents who are struggling to raise an autistic child and to learn about research into possible cures.

My second option was to read not only the stories of parents, but to follow the writings of adult autistics. Within this option, I could read stories of accepting autism, even celebrating autism.

Choosing that second option has not only made me happier, I’d like to think that I’m making it possible for Philip to be happier, too. Following that second path means that Philip won’t someday realize I’ve been trying to fix him. Instead, he’ll know that I’m doing everything I can to prepare him for life on his own terms.

I didn’t mean to write so much. Let me go back to the title: Autistic People Should . . . Today, there is a flash blog event. Autism advocates are all writing posts with this same title. They are tagging their posts #autisticpeopleshould. They are sending out positive messages of autism acceptance to counteract negative press, discrimination and hate.

So, like I started with, autistic people should be heard. I’m a parent. I’m only an expert on my son. To learn about autism, you should read about from the experts: autistics. Below are links to a sampling of articles that are a part of today’s flash blog. Read them. Because autistic people should be heard.

Amy Sequenzia at the Autism Women’s Network

Jodie van de Wetering at Letters from Aspergia

Kim Elmore & Jeannie Bennett at The Awe Sea

Musings of an Aspie

The Caffeinated Aspie

I’ll try to link more as I get a chance to read more.

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I’m linking up with the Yeah Write Weekend Moonshine Grid to spread the word of the “Autistic People Should . . .” flash blog.

20 thoughts on “Autistic people should . . .

  1. For parents who are learning how to go about building futures for autistic children – the blogging community is a warm place. I see so many parents out there blogging about life with an autistic child. It’s heartwarming to see.

    I love the approach you are taking to parenting your child. It’s like you are focused on learning how to be the parents of the adult he will be instead of focusing on how did this happen and how can I fix it.

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    1. I like the flash blog events-it really brings the autism blogging community together. There has been some conflict of late, so it was nice to see people put aside their differences and focus on the end goal-demanding respect for autistics of all ages.

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  2. Thank you for sharing what is to me a fresh perspective on autism. You are such a good advocate for your autism, level-headed, honest, and caring. Your son is very lucky.

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  3. Your son is adorable! You are taking a great approach and I’m sure he’ll get to be heard with you as his advocate. When my oldest was little, I had only had email for a couple years and the internet was a baby. It’s amazing what a great resource it is today!

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  4. When I saw you last month, I think I said how fortunate Philip was to have been born to you. This is a great example of what I meant. Thanks for all the writing you do and the learning opportunities you give so generously to the rest of us!

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  5. You are doing excellent work for your son. I see two ends of the autism spectrum : a nephew with autismn whose parents must constantly advocate to get him what he needs; and one of my son’s best friends, a bright teenager with Aspergers, who apart from his obsessive talkativeness and occasional overeactive meltdowns looks and acts like everyone else. Both of them are part of the story.

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  6. “What if, instead, you had been told this:

    You’ve done nothing wrong. You didn’t cause this. You haven’t failed your child. You were given an instruction manual for a Ford and your child is a Ferrari. So, congratulations! Your child is NOT fundamentally different from other children. You just need the right instruction manual. Parenting your child will be more intense. You’ll need more patience and time. Your child will have intense emotions and needs. But he’ll also have intense curiosity, drive, determination, desire, persistence and individuality. What you’ll need to find is the right fuel, the right environment and the right supports. With those, your child has great potential. With the right supports, he will have a happy and fulfilling life.”

    Full article here:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brenda-rothman/autism_b_2733094.html

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    1. I read Brenda’s post-she has a great way with words and is a fearless advocate.
      FYI-Next Saturday there is another flashblog-“Autistic People Are . . .” I hope you’ll have a chance to write a post about your guy. I can think of so many words to describe him-creative and loving just to name a couple.

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