Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We Aren't Here to be Your "Resource"

And it's fucking insulting when people say we are.

Autistic adults are not here to explain to NT parents what autism is like. Shocking, right? We are not a 'resource'. We are human beings. We have our own interests and lives and opinions and experiences.

Suggesting or acting as though our only value is in explaining autism to people who know an autistic person is displaying a shocking lack of empathy. All the literature used to say that autistic people used other people as tools. They said this apparently without irony, as that characteristic is way more descriptive of "translate my child" parents then it is of any autistic person I know.

Seriously. How is it even ok to act like 'letting' us tell you what it's like to be us, or what it was like to be us 10 years ago, is something we owe you? We don't owe you anything. It is arrogant and ableist to act like because you tolerate our existence, we owe you all the 'insight' you ask for.

Bonus points, by the way, for parents who want our 'insight' but otherwise want us to shut the hell up. If you want to know what I think about something-and I feel up to telling you-you're going to get exactly what I think about that something. We don't exist to make you feel better about how you think about or treat your autistic kid, either.

You aren't doing us any favors demanding we tell you about our neurology or insisting that we agree that your choices for your child are wonderful-we are doing you a favor by indulging these questions if we choose to do so.


Anonymous said...

But it's ok for us nominal NT's to ask for advice on how to interact with you directly though, right?

It seems that a dialog that leads towards understanding between different points on the neurodiversity spectrum should encouraged. Since we cannot separate ourselves from our minds, there is no way to abstractly define how we think - without comparison, there can be no understanding.

And without that understanding, all we can be to each other is, well, Other. no?

Neurodivergent K said...

Asking advice on how to understand and be understood isn't the same as the Universal Translator Demand. Not even a little. If it is, someone is doing things wrong.

I am all for respectful two way how-to-interact-better conversations. I am NOT ok with the barrage of questions about anything and everything from parents of autistics, who expect us to answer every personal question but won't answer us anything.

We aren't tools put here to make parents' and pros' lives easier. We have our really real own lives.

Reciprocity is a big thing in these conversations. If someone asks me how to meet me halfway, when I'm done being stunned silent I am going to be THRILLED to answer them. When they ask me about my bowel movements, I want to stab them with a spork. Make sense?

Lia said...

Heck, I don't even mind the translation process as much, as long as it doesn't require me to go into details that even as a person on the spectrum I'm quite aware is socially inappropriate.

"I'm really frustrated trying to communicate with my child, I can't tell when he's having a tantrum cause he's a brat, or having a meltdown cause he's overwhelmed, and it's causing me to react badly to both. Can you give me any insight?"

I'd answer that question happily. No big deal.

K and I were on a Facebook group together where we both identified as Autistic. The first question the parents got together and asked us was about how to get their kids to poop in the toilet vs smear it on the walls. (For the record, the only child I've seen smear poop was my completely neurotypical brother.) I mean... not only were we instantly expected to be universal translators, but they immediately went to poop?

I don't mind helping break down communication barriers. That's good! I do mind being asked about bodily functions, how it felt to start my period, how it feels to be a pregnant Aspie (really!), am I able to enjoy sex (this one still makes my head hurt), etc. And then, when you try and tell people to MYOB, that's really personal, and my sex life is really none of your business... we're vilified. We're told we clearly must not care about other Autistics. We're told that we're over reacting, and defensive and frankly Just Plain Mean for not being willing to talk in great detail about incredibly private things.

It's like a certain subset of parents feel entitled to a window into our lives, regardless of whether or not we've opened the shutters. And that's what isn't cool.