To all of you, parents of autistic children who wish your children weren’t autistic, this is for you.
I’ve spent most of my life believing there was something intrinsically faulty with me. Being me meant being wrong and defected. Not being the way people are supposed to be. I’ve tried so hard to correct myself, to fix that elusive and still so blatant defects. I’ve tried to erase myself. I’ve tried to stop existing as me.
Now I’m an adult. Now I’m finally starting to see me. Now I’m for the first time in my life starting to respect me. To value me. Not that it’s easy, but I’m trying. Tiny steps, but still steps forward.
The only problem is that I’m also a parent to an autistic child. A child that I so badly want to give what I didn’t get as a child. I want to give him respect and love for who he is. Not who he could be. Not the person “beyond autism”, because he’s autistic. Being autistic is a part of him.
Why is this a problem? Because now I have to watch people look at him with the same attitude people had when they looked at me. Like there’s something wrong. Like he needs to be fixed and trained to behave as little autistic as possible. Like he’s such a sweet kid, what a shame he’s autistic when he could have been so perfect. Like the goal is to try to make him develop as normal, meaning as neurotypical, as possible. Because that’s always better.
The pain of trying to erase myself has been unbearable. It still is. Knowing that you, thanks to your attitudes, are reproducing these attitudes and values – it makes me feel desperate beyond what I’m capable of expressing with words. When you say that you wish your child’s autism would go away, you say that being autistic is not as good as not being autistic. When you say that you wish your child will grow up and grow out of their autism you say that it’s bad to be autistic. When you say that being autisitic is something bad you harm autistic people.