(Inside: How autism really steals your child… It’s not how you think! See what REALLY happens to autistic children that steals them from their parents.)
“Autism STOLE my child from me”
“My real child is in there somewhere…”
“I lost my son to autism”
Those are all real things that have been said to me.
The narrative is that autism is a big scary monster that steals your child from you. It ruins your marriage. It destroys your family.
But is it?
See, if you’re someone who would say one of those statements to me, I would say that yes. Autism really will steal your child from you.
So how does autism steal your child from you? It’s definitely not in the way you think…
How Autism Steals Your Child | What Really Happens to Autistic Children
If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know that I’m autistic. So is my son A-Man.
We’re a neurodiverse family, and we fiercely support the neurodiversity movement and the social model of disability.
We do not want a “cure” or “treatment”.
But still, I’ll admit that for some people, autism really steals your child from you.
When You Want to Change Who Your Child Is… And Lose Who They Are
If you’re the parent saying that autism “stole” your child from you or that your “real child” is hidden somewhere in there…
You tend to try to change who your child is.
You try to make them communicate your way and lose the unique way that they communicate naturally.
You try to force “social norms” on them and lose what makes them comfortable and happy.
You try to teach them to act neurotypical and lose who your child truly is.
Your child is autistic. Through and through.
Autism steals your child when you decide to change who your child is, and you lose who they are.
When You Use Abusive Therapies to Make Them Change… And Lose Their Trust
When you take that desire to change your child even further, you may start abusive therapies in order to make your child change.
Therapies that agree with the view that autism is a big scary monster and we have to train them into complying and acting neurotypical.
*Note: I am not saying that all therapies are abusive at all. My family LOVES our therapists and they’ve changed our lives. I am saying that some therapies are abusive and dangerous.
The problem with these therapies are that you lose your child’s trust.
When you tell them that their body is wrong for needing to flap and stim? You lose their trust.
When you tell them that they communicate wrong, so they need to practice scripts? You lose their trust.
When you tell them to comply with physical activities even though it’s painful for them? You lose their trust.
Autism steals your child when you push abusive therapies that change who they are, and you lose your child’s trust.
When Those Therapies “Work”… And You Lose Their Uniqueness
This is the part that breaks my heart as an autistic person and the parent of an autistic child.
When those therapies “work”.
And your child starts to use those scripts, and stops obvious stims, and does the activities without a fight…
When parents celebrate because they’ve recovered the child that autism stole… That’s when your child has really been stolen.
Because when those therapies work, and your autistic child is successfully acting neurotypical, you’ve lost your child’s uniqueness.
And that’s the hardest part.
I can’t imagine my son without him happily stimming or talking about cupcakes non-stop.
And I really can’t imagine being happy if that ever went away.
Your child’s autism is a part of who they are. And when you take that away?
Autism steals your child when you take away everything that makes them uniquely them.
Autism Doesn’t Steal Your Child… You Push Your Child Away
The fact is… Autism doesn’t steal your child… You push your child away.
When you teach your autistic child that their autistic behaviors are bad.
When you put them in therapies that force them to change those autistic behaviors.
When you celebrate that they’re acting like someone they aren’t…
You are pushing your autistic child away.
Autism didn’t steal your child from you… You pushed your child away.
So before you tell me that autism stole your child, or that your real child is in there somewhere…
Remember that your child is your real child right now.
They haven’t been stolen or locked away.
Your child is there, right now. Please don’t push them away.
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