Updated: Oct 30, 2021
Parents sometimes seem to worry about seeking diagnosis for their children, adults may even weigh up the options for themselves. As Autism is almost universally viewed as a negative thing within our society this is hardly surprising.
People are concerned about the ‘label’ limiting their or their children’s options.
Parents are worried their child will have an ‘excuse’ to underachieve.
I suggest a reframing. Autism is not a label, it’s not even a diagnosis, Autism is an identity. We are a people, a culture.
Without an understanding of neurotype an un-identified Autistic person may label themselves as broken, lazy, mad, disorganised, dysfunctional, generally a bit crap and any number of derogatory and ableist slurs.
Identifying their neurotype and connecting with their neurokin in a positive and affirming way allows an Autistic person to switch those internalised messages and labels into something true, kind and accepting.
An Autistic person is not a broken neurotypical person, they are a glorious neurodivergent person.
An Autistic person is not lazy but they may well have limited energy, physical and mental capacity. Learning their limits allows an Autistic person to be more realistic about what they can and can’t achieve. Support from peers helps detach them from trying to attain unrealistic neurotypical standards.
An Autistic person may have co-occurring mental health issues but this doesn’t affect their validity or worth. Living in a way that support and nurtures their neurotype may help to alleviate some of the symptoms.
An Autistic person is not disorganised or dysfunctional. They may have differences in executive functioning. Understanding this allows them to seek out and create strategies that work for them even if they look unconventional.
Identification can happen at any point, many of the adults here on Autistic Parents UK realised their own Autistic identity through their child’s. Many of us are actively trying to raise our children with the positive Autistic identity that we were lacking.
I want my children to internalise the message that they are valid and whole and wonderously Autistic.
I want my children to know their true identity as I now know mine.
By looking beyond the label and embracing our Autistic identity we can live authentically and freely.