Society is so Inaccessible..
(Quoted with permission) “Its just been difficult accepting that he may have a harder life than others,” was said in a group this morning.
You see, I joined a new autism group on Facebook. Neurodiversity oriented, pro-babywearing, and autistic friendly. My worlds collided in spectacular fashion. But I said pro-babywearing. This means there’s a lot of new to autism moms in the group. This means there are newly diagnosed autistic moms in the group. (I apologize if any of you do not consider yourselves female.) So there’s a lot of educating to do. So far, the few people who have disagreed in a characteristic paaaarent fashion have left, from what I’ve seen.
But today, this was said. And I asked permission to quote it. I think it’s time we unpack just what it means to have a “harder life” as an autistic person. Where parents get this thought. And what parents can do to help their kid.
Yes, being autistic means that your child’s life is going to be harder. Not because of their impairments, but because of how society treats those impairments and how the environment around them spotlight their impairments. In the disability rights movement, this is called the Social Model of Disability. The example I like is, imagine if everyone was Blind. Then blindness wouldn’t be considered a disability. Everything we do would be set up with a Blind person in mind. So while we would all have an impairment in sight, it would not be disabling.
So, your child’s life is going to be harder. It’s a fact. So let’s move past that. Because dwelling on that won’t help. What will help is to figure out what you can do now to make life easier for them. What will help now is figuring out their accommodations. What will help now is to figure out their sensory profiles. What will help now is giving them functional ways to communicate.
I can’t tell you what all of those are. Finding good therapists and educators, parents and autistics, who can help you navigate their differences. And please don’t mistake my saying differences to mean they don’t have a disability. They do. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Finally, start teaching your child early and often how to ask for their needs. Honor their needs. Make sure everyone else is honoring their needs. They aren’t “special” needs. They aren’t “above and beyond.” Make sure your child has the ways to ask for their needs that they aren’t dismissed or misunderstood or misconstrued. Don’t ignore that things are going to be difficult. Give them the tools they need to get the help they need. It is the best thing you can do for them.