Normal Normal Normal

I’ve had a fresh dose of family this week trying to convince my husband and I that my daughter is not on the spectrum. I’m trying to take this in peace instead of getting angry. I’m not happy with the idea that saying my daughter is “normal normal normal” is a compliment, not when it invalidates my experience, not when it feels this need to hammer it in over and over. So still at midnight I lie in bed composing angry emails between nursing the baby, mostly along the lines of “if you don’t want to learn about this than F*$& off.” The infuriating thing is that they want me to do something different to “fix” the things I see as autism–usually some discipline-based practice like screentime limits or ABA.

The sad thing is they don’t know her as well as they could. They don’t know that when she screams “stop talking!” it’s an achievement in self care. She’s learned that silence will allow her to recover from a meltdown and she can communicate that without hitting. They don’t know how she laughs and laughs at the same jokes day after day, her particular thrill in the fact that something “wrong”–in the sense of incorrect, something that can trigger a meltdown for her–can be funny and forge a connection. They don’t know that her nearly non-verbal friend on the spectrum has much better social awareness than her, that he notices when her imagination takes her far away and tries to draw her back in to play. And they don’t know the amazement and joy I feel after her birthday party because three kids with autism and eight without all had fun together.

Autism is a huge chunk of our world and the insistence on invalidating it simply puts up a wall.

Luckily in the last few weeks I’ve also found unexpected avenues of support. The facebook group Unschooling Special Needs has been a haven where this double isolation of autism and unschooling turns into community. People reject the line seen too often on unschooling forums that labeling hurts your kid and high-functioning autism is just a sign you’re not unschooling right. Instead, everyone offers support: giving radical unschooling advice while also acknowledging that some kids will have needs far beyond our expectations, needs that use all of their parents’ energy.

Then a close friend recently told me she’s going to alcoholics anonymous. She explained how huge and unexpected that support network has been, but how some family members tell her she’s not an alcoholic because she doesn’t fit their idea of what an alcoholic looks like. What can you do in this situation? List off all the times you’ve blacked out? And what do I do with people to not only don’t believe me, but push for me to believe my daughter isn’t on the spectrum? Describe how the day before she sat on my lap panicking about the wind and stimming? Why would I do that when that story is not all of her, not all of autism. It’s also the jokes and the joy and the thrill of figuring out this world. IMG_2852

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Normal Normal Normal

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  1. Oh my goodness you have touched me so deeply with this! My child is autistic and no amount of denial and clever language is going to remove his autism. He is autistic and it makes him the beautiful, kind, curious, sometimes challenging child that he is. Without autism he would still be my wonderful son but he would express his qualities differently. Autism isn’t something to be afraid of or denied, it isn’t going to be cured so people need to get on board and deal. We love our children as they are and we need to go to where they are if we ever want to bring them successfully into our world. You can’t train a child not to act autistic. Might as well try to train a neurotypical child not to speak. It’s innate, they are autistic so they express themselves autisticly. If people aren’t comfortable with that then it says much about them and their values. Never be ashamed to speak the truth about your daughter and parent her in the ways you know are best for her. We know our children best. They are all unique and custom parenting is the only way that works unless you’re trying to crush their spirit and gift them a life of self doubt and inadequacy by trying to make them fit into someone else’s parenting model. Life is going to be hard enough, let them be happy and feel safely loved for as long as possible. Best wishes to you and yours.

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homo qui vixit

autism, disability, queerness, transness, poverty, and inevitably some wizard rock

Brett Wilkins

Writer, Activist, Freelance Journalist

Isza Kerr

Artistic autistic who started writing down thoughts.

Mamautistic

I'm an Autistic mama blogging about memories and life.

Embracing Us

Quiet reflections on parenting, unschooling, neurodiversity and life

Learning at the Lake House

Simple and fun Ideas to encourage Self-Directed Education and building connection with your kids.

ClimateWest

News and Commentary on Tackling Climate Change in the American West from WildEarth Guardians

Edunautics

exploring a world of learning

The Untamed

Growing Free

Haiku the Day Away

motherhood is poetic

Wholistic Learning Resources

Specialty Classes & Resources for Homeschoolers

Seventh Voice

Simply my take on living life as a female with Asperger's Syndrome.

Left Brain Right Brain

Autism Science, News and Opinions since 2003.

autistext

on autism, rhetoric, & ELO

homo qui vixit

autism, disability, queerness, transness, poverty, and inevitably some wizard rock

Brett Wilkins

Writer, Activist, Freelance Journalist

Isza Kerr

Artistic autistic who started writing down thoughts.

Mamautistic

I'm an Autistic mama blogging about memories and life.

Embracing Us

Quiet reflections on parenting, unschooling, neurodiversity and life

Learning at the Lake House

Simple and fun Ideas to encourage Self-Directed Education and building connection with your kids.

ClimateWest

News and Commentary on Tackling Climate Change in the American West from WildEarth Guardians

Edunautics

exploring a world of learning

The Untamed

Growing Free

Haiku the Day Away

motherhood is poetic

Wholistic Learning Resources

Specialty Classes & Resources for Homeschoolers

Seventh Voice

Simply my take on living life as a female with Asperger's Syndrome.

Left Brain Right Brain

Autism Science, News and Opinions since 2003.

autistext

on autism, rhetoric, & ELO

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