A Different Perspective

How come we spend this much time in the effort of adapting our autistic children, students, patients to our world, basically forcing Autistic people to accept and comply with our norms? Then we justify it by saying it is for their own good, to give them a chance of success in life. Is it the entire truth? How can we be sure if we place so little effort into putting ourselves in their shoes and accepting them for who they are?

Today I read this article in the Washington Post written by a mother like me, a mother of an autistic child. In the article, she describes in detail one instance when she felt forced to drag her panic-stricken son into a concert arena against his will so he would have the chance to see Elmo. Then maybe overcome what this mom described as ‘fear of indoor spaces’. The piece, written by Whitney Ellenby, is adapted from the author’s upcoming book in which, according to The Washington Post’s description, “details her struggles and triumphs with her son’s autism.

After reading I was left with a knot in my gut and yet, I needed some processing time to understand why. How could that story bother me this much? I’m no stranger to making decisions most parents would not understand or agree, or dealing with stressful situations in public. Yet, my usually overly active empathy ‘sensors’ and ‘warnings’ did not light up as usual for this mother, at least not as much as they did for the son.

Then it hit me – there is something significant missing in the article, and it has been systematically missing in our society whenever we attempt to bring forward the dialog about Autism: the struggles Autistic people go through. Not their parents, not their teachers, not their neighbors, not the people standing by. Continue reading “A Different Perspective”