Saturday, 21 September 2019

Misunderstanding Autistic Neurodiversity Supporters

A drawing representing a group of diverse people.

Above, a drawing representing a diverse group of autistic people.

I'm a neurodiversity supporter.  I want all autistic people to thrive.  All of them.  All of those in care home settings.  All of those with a lower IQ.  All of those with higher support needs.  All of those who do not work for a living for many reasons.  All of those who also have mental health conditions.  All of those who use different forms of communication. And all other autistic people. 

I am the parent of an autistic individual.  For some years, I was carer to a family member in a high secure setting, with very high levels of support needed around them.

My work for the autistic communities is largely around those in care home settings, ensuring they have the best possible care, and ensuring their families feel supported and listened to also. 

My academic studies currently look at how to help autistic people who are victims of crime (many of them with higher support needs).  My studies also look at the best ways to enable respectful and positive education for all autistic people, and respectful and positive healthcare for all autistic people.

Neurodiversity support does not mean 'I only support the elite'.  Nor is it anything to do with hating parents or wanting them separated from their children (unless their behaviour is actually abusive, in which case that is a matter for social care teams, not me personally).

Neurodiversity support means we accept that autistic brains are neurodivergent, in the same people as that group of people in the illustration here is diverse in other ways.  It does not deny that some need support, and that some may need assistance for anything medical, e.g. epilepsy, food intolerances, mental health conditions, or for learning disabilities.

I do not believe that describing autistic people as tragedies, to be normalised through coercion or genetic tinkering, is in any way helpful, for anyone. This huge study on the Autistic Not Weird website included lots of people with learning difficulties and lots of people who do not use spoken language. Very few saw themselves as tragedies in need of a cure.  Look how many strongly disagreed that they should be 'cured'.  Neurodiversity work isn't about ignoring their voices.  It's helping ensure their voices are heard.  Their voices, not those of their relatives, or scientists whose work will profit from cure-treatments.   

I respect individual choice, though.

I think people have us muddled up with supremacists, a completely different small group of people who believe they are better than others.  I don't think I'm better than anyone else, or worse than them.  Just different.  Just like I was as a non-speaking autistic child, rocking in a corner.  I spent a long time learning skills.  So many do. But every person is worthwhile.  Every person deserves their human rights, and people around them they can trust.

I see too many parents putting up awful personal details about their autistic young person's toileting habits, or videos showing them during times of distress and crisis, saying 'This is what Real Autism is like!'. 

We're all real. 

We all deserve not to have our dignity and privacy ignored.

All deserve a life filled with caring and thriving.  Whether autistic or not.

I hope that's helpful.

Thank you.  is the survey link