Monday, October 22, 2012

On Acceptance

The fight is so old and cliché, but let me lay down my take, as long as I care, momentarily.

My current perception, in general terms, is that most people agree that Autistic People deserve love, respect, and civil rights, and we should do our best as a society to provide needed support and treatment.

Just about everyone seems to agree with that. There are rare exceptions at the polar ends of the Acceptance Conversation, ranging from “The Problems Associated with Autism are Purely Social” to “Autism Needs to be Cured/Eradicated Because My Life as a Parent Is Difficult.” Um, these are extremely rare stances to encounter, if only because people with these views don’t attempt meaningful discussion, and most people will agree that they are wrongheaded.

Those with more moderate opinions on all sides tend to imply that those with opposing views fall into one of these Rare Polar Categories, while simultaneously inferring that their opponent is suggesting they are at the polar opposite.

An argument ensues where each opponent denies holding a polar position, and throws out a few vague examples of the moderate-ness of their position—usually things that, broadly speaking, they all actually agree on.

But the devil is in the details, and everybody’s feelings are hurt past the point of being able to have a productive conversation about them.

No, it’s not abundantly clear that acceptance of autistic people and negative feelings towards autism are mutually exclusive ideas.

No, it’s not obvious that you accept your child when you publicly focus on the burdens autism imposes—on NT loved ones, and NT loved ones, only.

No, disagreeing with an autist on a divisive issue isn’t equivalent to paving the way for social oppression for future autistic generations.

No, not every personal expression by self advocates about Neurodiversity is a personal attack on parents.

No, not every response to an autistic POV with an explanation of an NT POV is an attempt to oppress or silence autists.

I’m not saying that any of these ideas are inherently FALSE, I’m just pointing out that they are up for debate, for sure. And what happens is that people will lump these debatable concepts into their own, personal feelings about acceptance, and then REFUSE to discuss them because the issue at hand is Us vs. Them, or someone else making it about Us vs. Them, or Pro-Acceptance vs. Anti-Acceptance, or Pro-Treatment vs. Anti-Treatment. Pro-Respect or Anti-Respect. Obviously. The truth is, everybody is so busy identifying with a philosophy that they are failing to engage.

And it’s boring. Politics. So similar to the US Two Party System that it’s amusing. It says WAY more about human nature than it does about ASD/NT or disabled/nondisabled relationship dynamics. From where I’m standing, anyway.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Trip to the Dentist. Ick.

How to be informative and engaging and… sincere, all at the same time…

I don’t know. I don’t know if any of this is necessary. I don’t need it as an outlet. I’d like to think it’s a good public record of things. For me. For others.

We went to the dentist for the first time, earlier this week. I was apprehensive about someone putting their hands in my son’s mouth, but other than that, I thought things would go smoothly. He’s always good at the doctor’s office. I told him ahead of time what we were doing. He understood.

And then we got there, and there was smooth jazz coming out of speakers mounted outside. I wouldn’t have even heard it, except as we approached the building, my son covered his ears and stiffened up. By the time we got to the front door, he was backing up. A quiet whimper escaped him, but when I gestured to him to take my hand, he ran ahead of me, but kept both hands over his ears.

As I was filling out paper work, my son paced back and forth with his hands over his ears. I was completely unprepared for his sensory aversion. He does have some auditory sensitivities, but. This was the first time I had seen him unable to cope. And the heartbreaking thing was—he usually copes. He toughs it out. He sucks it up.  So if he wasn’t able to cover his ears and suffer briefly and silently… I knew it was extremely unpleasant for him. For the first time, ever, I found myself approaching the staff and explaining his autism. The experience was rather meaningful at this stage in our journey. I have put intensive intervention behind us, and right now, things are feeling strangely typical. I feel, for the most part, that I’m pretty accepting of the fact that my son “still has autism” although, at this stage, it doesn’t seem so terribly disabling. And then a disabling aspect of his autism emerges and totally catches me off guard.