One thing that has helped me recover from the pity pit I fell into after I accepted Ryan’s autism is that I realized that listening to autistic adults helps me feel calmer. Eventually, I began withdrawing from some of my online autism mom support groups and instead began searching out support groups for neurodiversity. I am so glad I made that choice.
Spending time listening to the thoughts of autistic adults has helped me both as a person and a mom. As a person, I am having almost daily epiphanies about my own personality and behaviour. I am not sure that I will ever get an actual diagnosis, but I remember when I first brought up the idea that I might be autistic to my husband he just nodded and said “That would explain a lot.” Understatement of the year.
Autistic adults have helped me as Ryan’s mom even more because it keeps reminding me of how important it is to support my Lion through childhood safety and confidently so he can enter the world as an adult, secure in the knowledge that he can do anything he sets his mind to, even if he has to take a different route to where he needs to go. Because of their work I have been able to spot areas in my parenting that seem inconsequential but could harm Ryan and have been able to change for his benefit.
In that vein I would like to suggest that other parents do the same. Some groups require that you have a diagnosis- or at least a self diagnosis. Don’t lie about that. If you are confident that you are Neurotypical, please leave the autistic only spaces safe. Other groups allow neurotypical people in as long as they follow a few rules designed to allow judgement free sharing. Once you are in, don’t ask questions unless invited to do so. They are there to support each other, not to teach you. You would be surprised on what you can pick up by reading an exchange. If you just can’t wrap your mind around why something is the way it is- google it. Chances are an autistic person out there took the time and emotional work to explain it. Side note: I get endless joy out of the posts venting about the myriad of rules that govern social interaction in our neurotypical world. I always walk away feeling so SEEN.
With that in mind, I thought I would share a few recourses I have found helpful.
First is a quick overview of autism in video:
Next is a comic that takes an in depth look at what the autism spectrum:
This article discusses the terms “High functioning” and “low functioning.” which should really not be a thing anymore.
There is a debate in communities about person first vs identity first language. In other words, should you say “Person with autism, or autistic person?” This video explains the difference and why different people have their preferences.
As a bonus, here is an article I like to explain why so many autistic people are against ABA therapy. I’m including it here because the site itself is a wealth of information on all topics and seems mainly written by neurodiverse people.
Here is my last big tip for you: If you love someone who is autistic- seek out others who are autistic, and learn from them.