“If you are a parent of an autistic child, you cannot hate autism and love your child. If you hate autism, you hate your child. Also, you are teaching your child to hate herself or himself.” – Ray Hemachandra
Strong words indeed, by a parent autism advocate. This also echoes the views of many autistic advocates, to the extent that there is a Disability Community Day of Mourning to commemorate disabled people who were killed by their family members.
I will personally not say something like that, and I will not recommend that autistic advocates say that. It is not that the statement is false. It is because autism parents have gone through a type of suffering that we autistics do not understand. Only those who have gone through that same suffering have the moral authority to say that to the other autism parents.
No, I am not saying that autism is a terrible monster that must be exterminated. I am saying that everyone in this world suffers, no matter NeuroTypical or autistic. To be born into this world is to suffer from the pain of losing what we love and the pain of bearing with what we hate. Autistics suffer, autism parents also suffer along with them.
Just as we hate it when people dismiss our daily struggles against discrimination and a society that fails to accommodate us, caregivers of autistics hate it when people dismiss their struggles against discrimination and a society that fails to accommodate us. Yes, we are on the same side, fighting against the same enemy.
But while we autistics struggle uniquely with communication, sensory and executive dysfunction issues, NeuroTypical caregivers struggle differently with finances, caregiving duties, fighting for the rights of and trying to securing a better future for those they are caring for. We cannot really say that we know the suffering of the other side until we have experienced these ourselves.
Hence, let us avoid adding on to the suffering of caregivers when we do our advocacy work. Let our words be gentle, firm, and wise so that we can stand our ground to affirm our autistic identities while healing the battle wounds of the parents. Let our words be a bridge to unite the autism community, instead of dividing it. Let our words bring forth World Peace, starting with the autism community.