April 1: You Aughta Know This Week

This week, Nazis and autistic moms who become autism warrior moms.

This Week in Autism

It may go without saying that some percentage of the autism moms who get into wars with autistic self-advocates are actually autistic themselves.

It makes sense given that autism is at least partially genetic (hence those who aim to “cure” autism by messing with genes). It also explains the incomprehensible defensiveness that some autism moms get when advised by autistic adults that they may want to rethink things they are doing to/for their autistic child. This is not to excuse bad behavior nor imply the majority of autistic parents get involved in Twitter wars. However, I think it is pretty well known that some parents have said that autistic self-advocates cannot speak for their autistic children because they are too “high functioning” and even that somehow the autistic person’s advocacy work does not address the needs of all autistic people. These are inflammatory statements.

Obviously all autistic people are different. But that doesn’t justify dismissing out of hand what a self-advocate is saying, and following it up by attacking the person saying it. Now, Robyn at Autism in Our Nest, recently pointed out to me that autistic parents are experts when it comes to their children, and she’s clearly right! While she’s not the type of autism mom that I see getting in Twitter wars with adult autistics AT ALL, I think her point is important. The autism parent may feel that a self-advocate is saying they don’t know their own child.

But in some of these online fights, it does seem like self-advocates are simply pointing out things about an autistic’s experience of the world that an autism parent may not understand. It’s the reaction from the parent that ignites the exchange into a battle.

Back to the possibly autistic parents. Indeed, it’s not unheard of that a child’s autism diagnosis spurs a soon-after parent’s autism diagnosis. Or traits. Or an autistic cousin syndrome, like ADHD. (In this story, the parent is diagnosed a year before the child.)

So it was with interest that I saw this story this week: Some hardcore autism moms are autistic too.

So when you meet someone who is a newly diagnosed parent, remember that they are TRYING to learn, and it’s our job to help them.

I get that many of us are so FED-UP to the teeth of the autism warrior martyr mommy” – but when we do meet someone who is genuinely trying to do better for their kid, let’s pull back on that righteous anger and turn to guiding instead. Because they ARE doing the right thing by coming to us, asking questions, seeking expert, authentic education. And who better to learn from than US??? We ARE the experts.

…Jumping down someone’s throat even after (especially after) they’ve admitted they’re ignorant but wanting to learn better, is akin to kicking someone when they’re down. That never accomplishes what you want.

It’s especially relevant if we think about just how strong the chances are that one or both parents are also neurodivergent themselves in some way, and probables states that there’s a fairly good chance one parent or sibling is also autistic.

That should be enough to modify our attitude and gentle our tone.

We need to focus more on being the teachers, instead of the soldiers.

Second, I saw this article on Asperger, which dispels some of what I took from Steve Silberman’s Neurotribes.

As Asperger sought promotion to associate professor, his writings about the diagnosis grew harsher. He stressed the “cruelty” and “sadistic traits” of the children he studied, itemizing their “autistic acts of malice.” He also called autistic psychopaths “intelligent automata.”

Some laud Asperger’s language about the “special abilities” of children on the “most favorable” end of his autistic “range,” speculating that he applied his diagnosis to protect them from Nazi eugenics — a kind of psychiatric Schindler’s list. But this was in keeping with the selective benevolence of Nazi psychiatry; Asperger also warned that “less favorable cases” would “roam the streets” as adults, “grotesque and dilapidated.”

Words such as these could be a death sentence in the Third Reich. And in fact, dozens of children whom Asperger evaluated were killed.

While this is bitterly disappointing, it’s not a surprise that someone trying to stay alive in the time of the Nazis became crueler under their watch.

This Week in Media: my latest On a Related Note post.

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