I've been having a difficult time with hubby and the kids lately so this story didn't go down well with me at all. Autism pride indeed. The attitude expressed by the individuals interviewed for this story seemed to be a clear example of the autistic trait of not understanding how one's behaviour impacts others. As someone in an intimate relationship with someone with strong autistic characteristics and as someone raising autistic children I wonder what these people are really proud of. Are they proud of the isolation and frustration that their loved ones deal with because of their condition? Are they proud of focusing on their areas of interest so intently that their friends and families are shut out of their lives? Are they proud of how greatly their parents had to struggle to teach them the basics of human interaction?
Can you tell I am not at all impressed by the autism pride movement?
Rather self centered wasn't I? I'm glad I at least had the sense to hold off on posting that back then. I've grown up a bit in the 15 months since I first wrote the above and I find myself now more and more attracted to the autism pride movement. I'm not really big on pride movements in general but the autism pride movement seems to really give autistics the respect and compassion due them as human beings.
I don't think my autistic kids are broken, diseased, or poisoned. They are just plain old fashioned autistic. Those in the autism pride movement know this as well with the added bonus of recognising that autistic children grow up to be autistic adults. I think back then I had forgotten what a marvelous gift I had been given in the form of my husband and children.
I've gotten tired of hearing how receiving a diagnosis of autism is devastating, world crashing,or a train wreck. I was never devastated by my children's diagnosis, my world did not come crashing down, and my life was no more of a train wreck than it had been before. I am not interested in defeating or curing autism any more than I am interested in defeating or curing curly hair or brown skin.
More and more each day I learn to appreciate the strengths of the autistics in my life. Often their strengths compensate for my own weaknesses. Their weaknesses do present some serious challenges from day to day but I can't really hold that against them now can I? As a parent it's my job to teach my children how to use their strengths to compensate for their weaknesses. As a wife it's my job to use my strengths to build the relationship with my husband despite his weaknesses. That's a hell of a lot of work but that's the kind of thing you sign up for when you become a wife and mother.
These days as I advocate for my children I look forward to the day when they will advocate for themselves.
The funny thing about all of this is that as I reread the story I linked to above I found myself agreeing with much of what is said in the article. In fact, I think that story is what clued me in to communicating important information to my husband in writing. It also helped me to put into words my dislike for the terms high functioning and low functioning as they are applied to autistic people.
As I explore the online autism community I am more and more not impressed by those who are fixated on vaccines and mercury as a cause for autism. Autism is so much more than that. I am certainly not interested in being helped by people who think that autistic people are trapped inside some kind of shell or that their brains have been rotted out by this or that. I'm beginning to resent the constant hijacking of the discourse to focus on alternative treatments that supposedly cure autism and the constant talk of the tragedy of autism. The real tragedy of autism is people not accepting and appreciating those who are autistic.