What are the best ways to support my autistic child?

Here are some common questions people have about autism and answers I wished I had when my child was initially diagnosed in 2016.             

  1. What are the best ways to learn about autism? Learn about autism from the experts: autistic people. Follow #actuallyautistic people or check out NeurodivergentRebel.com. I wished I had done this first.

When you learn about autism from people who are actually autistic, rather than those who are “experts” who’ve only observed autism, your understanding will profoundly change for the better. How will your understanding change if you learn from autistic people about autism?:

Instead of fearing this “mysterious” puzzle-like situation going on (as it is often presented by clinicians), you will be amazed at the beauty and power of neurodiversity. There are many autistic adults who are proud of who they are and gladly share their stories with you. Search #actuallyautistic on any social media platform and prepare to be amazed. Many autistic people are incredibly articulate and often their “inability to communicate with others” was actually just a misinterpretation on the part of people in power, like Braus. But I implore you, please just listen.

Process later.

And don’t argue with the real experts about what being autistic means. Only autistic people are in a place to explain their experience.

  1. How do I learn about autism? Remind yourself that you’re trying to learn about a neurology that has been brutally pathologized for a long time. Your core beliefs will be challenged and it’s normal to be uncomfortable. 

Many of my fears about autism were unfounded because I took a clinical approach to my understanding. Autism is still medically referred to as a disorder (Autism Spectrum Disorder), not a different operating system (think Mac vs PC). In your quest for information about autism you might not “see” any answers because of an inappropriate approach that autism is a disorder. It’s not. It’s just a different order than many people are accustomed to. I now refuse to call autism a disorder. Autistic people are in perfectly fine order. I just didn’t comprehend what I was looking at because I spent way too many hours reading clinical studies about how different it was from a specific neurotypical standard that was set by neurotypicals.

Autism is not a terminal disease. But it’s often treated like that because of how “experts” like to talk about it. “Tell-tale signs” or “symptoms” are not called traits.

  1. Parenting and autism. Autism isn’t a moral failing on the parents’ part, nor a choice by your child. If you find yourself feeling like a failure or wanting to blame your kid for “misbehavior”, see #2.
  1. What are the best ways to help my child who is autistic? Autism presents differently in each person and is dependent on their support system and unique needs. A parent who helps their autistic child helps them build on their strengths and honors their unique needs. If you only focus on deficits, that is all you will see and that doesn’t actually help anyone. 
  1. How do you know if a therapy is right for your autistic child? If you’re not sure if a therapy/treatment/doctor is right for your autistic child, just replace “autism” in their advertisement with any other inherited trait and see how it sounds. “Curing Brown Eyes with Natural Supplements” sounds pretty stupid, huh? How about “Fighting Irish Heritage with [insert name of ‘expert’ doctor here]”? You can’t cure your inherited traits and you don’t need to. 

Hope this helps. Follow @sensationalstims for more info!

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