I have to say this first: to the big Aspie/Autism online community that is “wrongplanet.net” – this is NOT about the perception of autistics who might find society so strange and bewildering at times, that it feels to them like they have touched down on another planet. If that is the way you want to describe it, of course I am fine with it (and sometimes feel the same btw..) But every time someone comments on an autistic child with those words, while they might be uttered with endearment and sympathy, it factually sets these children further apart from all the others. Doesn’t matter if it’s only a ‘superficial absence’ (lack of eye contact, different body language) or if they are very distracted (or stressed) by an overflow of stimuli: those kids are still here, with us. Do not exclude them, not even with words.
I had prepared this comic for a while, but hesitated to post it. I think I try not to be too confrontational with real life people… Not only about autism, about anything. I kinda had my share of conflicts in life and know some are just not worth the effort. Like this one? See, my answer to her was “It’s ok. I understand“, something like that. But in reality, I was incredibly hurt. It wasn’t the first car we were passengers in. When the driver actually sets some rules from the start, it usually works. But mum and her kids were completely mute and not exactly welcoming to Nemo. It was a short ride but it WAS uncomfortable. She knew about his autism for long, also worked in education. She “totally” understood ?
This may or may not become a series also. Just like “sh*t people say about autism”, there are a few things parents of autistic kids do.. that simply are not right in my eyes. There may be a minor educational effect, very similar those of the ‘see this family suffer!’ stories we see on the media, but displaying their own child in distress on the internet for anyone to see, judge and possibly ridicule – I just don’t understand why parents do this?! I already see enough risks with the full exposure blogs that have photos, names and places of ANY child, let alone children with disabilities. There have been cases of abuse of imagery, nasty troll comments and so on. Once you put something on the internet, even if you delete it, copies are in circulation forever. THINK before you expose your child on the internet!
So although HERE I basically complained that we are not exactly overwhelmed by invitations to birthday parties, sleepovers or play dates, my son actually went to a birthday a few weeks ago. On Nemo’s request, I didn’t stay but I did tell the dad about his autism. I told him Nemo could get very upset for no apparent (!) reason and that it’s good to bring him to a quiet zone if that happens. We lived like 3 minutes away from the house. They could call me anytime. The party was scheduled for 2 hours. What could happen, right ? (Massive kudos for this very cool dad! I was SO thankful for his attitude.)
This could easily become a series… as we all know. There is A LOT of ignorance about autism in the broad population (those who are ‘aware’ of it now). I believe, in the interest of our kids, in the interest of all autistic people really, it’s a bit our job to educate. That’s not always easy though, when you get hit from the get-go with some harrowing statement like this. [this was really said to me, and today I read a similar statement in a facebook comment. no evil intent. just total ignorance.] What have people said to you, stupidly and not to insult, that left you almost speechless?
I am not actually as concerned as many people were and still are about the changes of the DSM-5. I had always understood Asperger’s to be a form, or a variant of autism. I am not even sure which classification is actually predominantly used here in Australia, I have read contradicting information (and in the WHO’s international ICD-10 Asperger’s Syndrome is still well alive). But I thought it was a curious, short lived development for a diagnosis, first described some 50 years before it was picked up to be included, and barely 30 years later, it’s already history again. If anything, it shows us that we are still learning, all of us.