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Let's share about autism early, far, and wide

I am just off a zoom session. It was an amazing parent group I run in collaboration with the Autism Society of Oregon. We meet on either the 3rd or 4th Saturday of each month and it is free.

One parent had asked how to share the diagnosis of autism with her 9 year old. Another parent shared that they haven't really talked about it in their home with younger children, wondering when might be a good time. Others had fabulous stories about using autism as a household word, talking about different processing, different strengths.

I shared my usual 2 favorite recommendations for the autistic perspective first:

  • Stephen Shore

  • Rosie King

The conversation took off at this point, diving deep into the emotional experiences of navigating a world that is not yet made for autistic individuals. Of course, we discussed the fact that it is not only autistic children but all children who should learn about differences, disability, and processing as early as possible.

We need a world that is more accepting, more accommodating, and more inclusive of all kinds of minds. This is the positive aspect of our conversation. However, we also had to get realistic and it is painful.

As someone in the group brought up, the fact is that autistic individuals face micro-aggressions everyday (at school, the community, and at work). They experience teasing, internalized ableism (chastising oneself for not being "normal"), and we currently still live in a very ableist world wrought with systemic oppression. That same person echoed the fact that most autistic adults reject the notion of autism spectrum being a "disorder," but a part of humanity, a difference in processing.

We can actively combat that systemic oppression by recognizing and advocating for people to shift their mindset about disability as a whole. Disability has become this negative connotation in our society rather than simply the difference in humanity that it is. Autism is not only here to stay but more and more people are receiving the diagnosis every day. And I think we have a lot to learn from Autistic individuals and those with disabilities. The strength and resilience in each is jaw dropping and I so wish they didn't have to be either.

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