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Challenge: Kids with Special Needs

Parents of autistic children matter too

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If you’re the neurotypical parent of an autistic child and have the audacity to speak about your child’s autism, you’ve probably been told by people in the neurodiversity movement that you’re wrong—to “listen to autistic adults”.

And they’re right. You should. But that, of course, includes autistics adults like me. Those who support ABA therapy, who don’t believe autism is only a gift, and those who don’t think parents of autistic children are martyrs if they express any negativity about their child’s diagnosis. A diverse range of opinions. Not just THEIR opinions. Listening to the autistic adults, like me, who won’t jump down your throat for saying “person with autism” instead of “autistic person”. And those who appreciate parents who share their struggles, whether they’re autistic or not.

You should listen to autistic voices but not only. Autism affects the whole family unit, so it’s worth listening to the family too. You should listen to my mom! To what it was like raising a child with undiagnosed high-functioning autism. You should listen to parents of nonverbal children – you know, people who don’t have the luxury of being able to advocate for themselves on social media.

There isn’t one single autistic voice. There’s no “we” when it comes to autistics. There’s no “we” because just like with neurotypical people, we’re our own people with different views and different feelings!

So sure, listen to autistic adults, but don’t ever forget that autistic adults don’t speak for your children, they’re speaking for themselves and for a minority of angry and vocal people who are part of the neurodiversity movement. Sharing a diagnosis doesn’t mean we all understand what every autistic person is going through. The spectrum is too broad.

That means that I don’t speak for your children either as an autistic adult. All I can do is offer my perspective as one autistic person, and also my perspective as the mother of a child with severe autism. Each autistic is an expert on their own autism, and that’s it.

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