Autistic breath of fresh air

It must be Interesting Article Month or something, since I just saw another on Salon that I had to share my reply to.  This one had the interesting title of How My Son Has Taught Me About His Autism; while it repeated some common misconceptions, it was very unusual in that it was about a mother listening to her young son and other autistic people, not running around crying that autism ate her baby.  Here is what I replied with:

Seeing an article by a non-autie parent of an autistic-spectrum kid, I immediately became anxious from too much experience... 99% of the time, such things boil down to: my child is broken. Being autistic, with an autistic father I'm really proud of & a ton of other autistic-spectrum relatives on both sides, seeing our kind of person referred to that way is upsetting.
It's good that you're listening to your son, doubly so that you're listening to autistic people, not just "experts" making guesses from the outside! I was interested to see his description of his mind isn't far from how my mother (not sure what she is) describes hers; mine is more synaesthetic like moving textured swirls of color, but when translating my thoughts into words, I use a similar computer/dictionary kind of method.
You have to be careful, though: most of today's young spectrum folk were raised to see everything about themselves as dysfunctional, and to view bullying/mistreatment from the self-blaming perspective of an abuse victim. They make it seem logical to figure "if he seems more like them, they won't hit him" instead of the way we'd handle it for anyone else: "hitting kids for being different isn't acceptable."
The theory of mind idea is actually wildly inaccurate. To begin with, everyone interprets human behavior based on their personal, cultural & neurological background; the way you politely show appreciation for a home-cooked meal in Italy, for example, is really offensive in America. Also, non-auties as a group are much worse when it comes to reading us than vice-versa, so that most of the literature on autism and how to treat or help us is wildly inaccurate as a result.
I'll tackle another couple of misconceptions... We don't find life itself confusing, just things (social structures, room layouts, etc.) designed for non-auties. We have our own ways of interacting, communicating nonverbally, and socializing that work great with other autistics. We also have hardwired ways of relieving stress & anxiety like the steam in a teakettle -- stims (repetitive actions), perseverating (intense studying of a favorite subject). The best way for us to avoid isolation isn't to put on a big act to hang out with non-auties, it's to find others of our own kind that share one of our interests.
With that in mind, if you want to help your son and protect him, seek out our wonderful parent-allies like Estee Klar & fellow auties that (like me) perseverate on understanding & accepting autistic neurology. My namelink points to my autism bookmarks on that topic, including ones going to Estee's blog.
Good luck to you and your son... I hope you two, as well as all of the other autistics & parent-allies (allies are the ones that don't want to cure, normalize, or abort us) have a good week!

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