Thursday, June 27, 2013

We Are Like Your Child

One of the biggest problems that neurodiversity activists tend to face is a difficulty connecting to parents of neurodivergent children*. For whatever reason, the difficulties and challenges that we articulate do not always *click* with parents as being similar to (or an extension of) the challenges facing their own children.

Sometimes, I will own, this is because we activists have a hard time articulating the relationship between the two. More often, though, it seems to be because the parent is either viewing the child's challenges as behavioral obstacles or they are thinking about the immediate obstacles they have to deal with--obstacles being sluggish, bureaucratic school systems and support networks, pervasive and ineffectual "cures" being marketed at them, external judgments of their parenting skills... the list goes on.

The point here is not to pass judgment on the parents, but to acknowledge the challenges that they already face.

To help bridge the gap here, to show what our experience is like, and to construct a clear relationship between the behavior a child might use to express these challenges vs. the adult vocabulary we have developed, a group of us have set up a new blog: "We Are Like Your Child".

This blog will specifically exist to collect our experiences, to document our challenges, and to share with one another (and with parents) the life skills, workarounds, and coping mechanisms we have developed in order to achieve our goals. For some of us, those goals are based around our activism. For others, our careers. Some of us are just happy to live an autonomous life--we each set our own measures for success, and instead of functioning labels and normalization, we talk about how we're doing with regard to reaching our goals.

Hopefully, the diversity of experience here will help you to see what has worked for us, what we wish other people would understand about our challenges, and what we did when we were younger (and still do) to try to communicate when words are failing us.

*I'm saying "neurodivergent" and not "autistic" for a reason. There are bloggers on WALYC who are allistic, but who live with other neurological disabilities. There are also some who are multiply neurodivergent, whose challenges include autism and other neurological conditions.