Wednesday, April 4, 2012

From AS Parenting

Generations – What Acceptance Means to ME!

Fun facts going in, in case you’ve never read my blog before.
  1. I identify as Autistic and have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
  2. I have two children who are cute, adorable, and thankfully, Autistic.
  3. I work for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, but the views I express on this blog are my own!
Kathryn Bjornstad-Kelly’s post on the (awesomely new) ASAN website today for AAM is right. Awareness is not enough.
Reasons why AWARENESS is not enough for me?
Growing up, I was not diagnosed. I did not become diagnosed until my children were. So the “suck it up” attitude is what I usually got.. or the “Watch your P’s and Q’s” line… I was taught that speaking my mind was wrong. That children were seen and not heard.. That women were subservient to men.. That it is NOT ok to be noncompliant (even if your finger is broken and swelling much larger than it’s supposed to be). I learned that the only way to escape home was to work work work. And the only way to survive at home was also to work work work. And to never let the food get cold. And that even if you speak up, the most you will get is a lot of sympathy but no action.
And so I drove myself to meet these demands. I drove myself from as far back as I can remember to do all my work.. To do extra activities.. To do the cooking and cleaning. And to never complain. And to never break down…
One day, I did. I broke down. I broke down for a year. A solid year that I don’t recall a lot of what happened. My medical records clearly show, but actual memory is not there. And how long did it take me to recover from this one year where my body and mind said NO MORE!? 10. Ten years it took.
I’m finally back to where I was before the breakdown. And much wiser.
However, when my kids were diagnosed, do you know what I saw?
I saw parents and professionals talk about awareness. I saw them also talk about how to get your child to make eye contact.. and how to make your child stop flapping and spinning.. and how to make sure your child isn’t rude to others.. and how to make sure they were indistinguishable from their peers.. and how the only way to truly make them better is to rob them of their childhood by doing therapies before school, after school, on the weekends.
I say NO! I say no because I know where that leads.. and I’d rather these children not be told that they aren’t good enough.. and that they need to stop being the way they are.. Because in the end, what is going to happen to them? I don’t want my kids to lose 10+ years of their life just because they aren’t allowed to flap their hands, or spin in an empty room or on the grass, or speak up when they can’t do something any longer!
Autism Acceptance is about accepting those things that make each of us different. It doesn’t mean to not nurture and help in the areas that are difficult. It just means that after you become aware of Autism, that you become accepting of the good, the bad and the really disgustingly ugly.. and instead of trying to hide it all, you take the person that’s there and try to make them an even better by strengthening what is there.

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