Your feelings about autism are constructed by living in a world that fears and stigmatizes disabled lives. Your distress about an autism diagnosis are most certainly because of these unhealthy messages. Please remember that your behavior in regards to your child’s diagnosis is a choice. Signing this behavior plan means that you will always put the dignity, autonomy, and love for your child above buying into the dominant narrative of tragedy or the belief that autism is something that the Autistic person is doing to you.
- I promise to never use my child’s most vulnerable moments for sympathy or to “raise awareness”. I recognize that I am my child’s safety net against an often hostile world. When I feel like sharing, I will ask myself if this is something that I would want others to share about me.
- I will never blame autism when I have a hard time parenting my child. Parenting is stressful at times, but rewarding as well. This is true for ANY child and I will recognize this.
- I will prioritize the voices of Autistic people over the “experts” as I recognize that Autistic people are the ultimate experts on their own lives.
- I will throw out the myth of a “developmental window” and acknowledge that my child will grow and learn in their own time, in their own way with my love, guidance and nurturing.
- I will never apologize for my child being openly Autistic.
- I will look at every therapy offered to my child with a critical eye. I will ask myself what is the desired outcome? Is it supportive or is it attempting to change my child’s neurology? I will never force my child into therapies that vow indistinguishability or that seek to “fix” or promise a non-Autistic version of my child.
- I will embrace the neurodiversity paradigm and celebrate my child as a beautiful part of the wide and diverse spectrum of humanity.
- I will learn about the social model of disability and confront ableism when I see it. I will learn about the disability and autistic rights movements and use my privilege to further the cause.
- I will learn about Autistic culture and find Autistic friends, not just for my child but for me as well. I will promote acceptance and lead by my example.
- I will learn about identity first language and show my child that I am proud of their Autistic identity.
- I will NEVER say that I love my child but not their autism. I will recognize that autism is an integral part of who they are and shapes how they view, process and experience this world. I will love every part of my child. I will never teach them shame or internalized ableism.
- I will presume that my child is competent and understands more than may be apparent. I understand that communication is more than speech and I will support my child’s communication in any form. *
- I will never fight autism, but I sure as hell will fight for my child’s right to be exactly who they are in this world.
- I will recognize that I am only human and I will make mistakes along the way. I will forgive myself and do better.
For a printable version of this Behavior Plan, click here.
This article is shared here with the permission of the author, Lei Wiley-Mydske, and was originally published at We Always Liked Picasso Anyway. Please check out the other amazing posts there, and if you are in a position to do so, please consider contributing to support Lei’s amazing work at the Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library (which you can read about here).
Thank you, Lei ❤️
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.
© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2017)