What Autism Acceptance is to me....
Some parents I meet are downright offended when they hear "Autism Acceptance," and anything related to it. They have many false notions about this movement, and those of us involved in it. For one, they presume we all dance around all day like a bunch of nutjobs, thanking the heavens that our children are autistic, never having a moment of sadness or stress. They assume that because we have accepted autism & find joy in our life, then we don't encourage our children to communicate or groom themselves or develop in any way. That is just the beginning of their insane views on those of us who are part of the Autism Acceptance 'movement.' They have no clue that we tend to treat our autistic children very much like our NT children. They simply can't graspe the concept of looking past the "big bad Autism" & seeing just our child. They don't understand why we're willing to "accommodate" our child by offering alternative forms of communicating, quiet time, avoiding certain places, etc.
I have never said that life with autism is a complete round-the-clock blast. Life raising any child has it's fair share of ups & downs. People assume because I am able to find joy in my child & in our life, & thus, in autism, that my child is "less affected." This is a common argument they will throw at me & others. Where they get the term & how the interpret "less affected" is something I've yet to figure out. If you truly are autistic--whether it is classic autism or aspergers--indeed every aspect of your life is affected by autism. And, I don't know how one would ever get a clinical diagnosis if they were "less affected."
That aside, myself & others like me are often "accused" of having a child who is "less affected." That, we are in a separate realm of the spectrum than their (these other parents) miserable existence. That I just couldn't possibly relate to their life, their stresses. My child must be "high functioning" or "aspergers," they say (and, again, those two are apparently cake-walks). Because, there's simply no way, that if my child had the "real bad, shitty autism" (their words, not mine) that their children have, I could ever feel any joy in my life.
I've stayed away from specifics with regard to my child, as much as I can. I will say that her diagnosis is autism, and she's not considered 'high functioning' or as having aspergers. Again, I have come to know people and children with these various diagnoses of autism, and I've yet to come to the conclusion that any one diagnosis is easier or defines someone's future or their abilities. So, my daughter has autism, just like most of their children, and this tends to upset them.
It amazes me, each time I hear these parents speak, how quick they are to debate other parents. Time and time again, the parent who chooses to be bitter and see no joy in their child or their life, they will attack and belittle any parent who believes in the idea of acceptance or who has a child they feel is "higher functioning." They especially get infuriated with us who are finding happiness in our lives, autism and all. I have seen and felt this firsthand. My child is now verbal, but has the very typical communication issues of people with autism. But to them, the fact that my child can speak (& they want no part of alternative communication for their children often), this makes them bitter. I can't understand their pain, because I hear my child speak. They all promote that lie of someone who cannot speak, obviously has nothing to say. It makes them--these parents--feel better.
My child has sensory issues, she stims, she lines up objects, she hits, kicks, & bites, she has meltdowns, tics, a tremor, seizures, major feeding difficulties, developmental delays, self-regulation issues, etc. Need I go on? I could devote my life to only those details. I could look at my precious child & only see those things, only see what was wrong or different. I could, as these parents do, see only what was missing, what was broken, or what was lost.
Equally, I could look at my other child. I could say she talks way too much, has problems focusing, is overly-sensitive, is clumsy, and has sleep disturbances. She was slow to potty train, she is a very picky eater, and she still has trouble tying her shoelaces. Would people think it odd, if this was all I spoke about with regard to my child? If all I did was complain or stress over her inadequacies, her challenges, wouldn't those around me take issue with that? So, why the double standard? Why is it we have free license to bitch and moan over our autistic children? Why is it okay for us to not see any good and only focus on the negatives?
I choose to see the amazing things. I embrace the little things. How her laugh is the greatest music in the world. The kick I get out of her organizing the products on the grocery shelves (no, she doesn't work there!). The way she bounces up and down when she is happy. Yes, when she is happy. I do get stressed out, I have sleepless nights, I cry. But, to think about and only focus on the challenges, I would miss the big picture. The big picture is that my daughter is an individual, a person, and I never want to disrespect her. She is a gift.
What Autism Acceptance is to me....