My wonderful friend wrote the following words which will ring true with many. She has put into words what many are ashamed to admit or acknowledge.
I’m really fed up right now of friends (even friends with autism in the family) sharing stuff about how great autism is – that it’s a blessing and only our current culture causes problems for autistic people, and how many amazing talents autistic people have. I’m very glad that that is their experience of autism, but right now, it is *not* mine. H has no amazing talents as a result of his autism. Gods know I have tried to find something for him, a niche, his “thing”, to help him feel better about himself but I haven’t found anything.
And H suffers as a result of his autism, he really suffers, and not just as a result of being misunderstood by wider society, not just in a culturally-induced way. He *suffers* from his own thought processes. He suffers from not being able to identify or process his emotions. He suffers from obsessive thoughts he can’t break out of, and horrible anxiety he can’t cope with.
I’m all for celebrating neurodiversity, and all the gifts and benefits it brings to individuals and wider society, and definitely half the challenges of being neurodiverse are culturally produced. But some are not. My son is not going to be magically “cured” by homeopathy, kiniesiology, a particular diet, or banning screens. He is quite as capable of being anxious to the point of meltdown in the woods as he is of melting down in a busy supermarket.
His autism is not “produced” by the modern world. And I’m sick of hearing a rosy-tinted view that in times gone by, he’d have been much better, in a more predictable world, where villages tolerated “odd” members. In fact, he probably would not have survived to adulthood in times gone by. He would have starved, or ended up in an asylum or prison, given his particular behavioural traits.
So basically, I’m sick of people telling me what a blessing autism is. After another night of him being terrified in the middle of the night for no reason and having to open everyone’s doors to check they’re still there, and put all the lights on and still be too scared to be alone. After a day of trying to persuade him that it’s a good thing to leave the house occasionally and do something. After yet another session of sobbing due to being fixated on some tiny thing which is never going to happen but he’s terrified of and obsessed with and cannot let go. Doesn’t seem like a blessing to him right now 😦