Call for greater understanding within the online autism community

Jo Worgan
Jo Worgan

Sometimes you just need a break from the outspoken autism community. That is how I have found myself feeling over these past few months.

I love reading blogs from other parents, and still do so, as well as reading funny and real life stories. One the other week was about a young man in America, who landed his dream job as a barista at Starbucks. With support from the manager, he now dances (due to his sensory needs) while making and serving coffee to the customers. This did make me smile, as did the positive reception this story got from being posted online, many of the comments were from parents of autistic children.

However, I have distanced myself from the more outspoken members of the autistic community. Those who voice that the thoughts and opinions of parents are not important, that only the voices of those who are autistic should be heard. This upsets me for many reasons.

Firstly, I feel it is very important that all voices are heard, every voice is important. I agree autistic individuals should be heard and lead the movement in how services are run; how support is funded and organised and who helps to change public opinion. But why try to silence the voices of the parents? True, I have no idea what it is like to be autistic, but I do know what it is like to care for an autistic child.

I still have an opinion that matters. Why belittle the parent community? Another reason is parents’ voices are not wanted as the more outspoken opinions are all about ‘different ability’ and ‘neurodiversity’. Again, I am all for neurodiversity but ‘different ability’? No, I can’t agree with that one, sorry. However, shouldn’t all opinions be equally considered? Sometimes it feels as though parents’ views mean nothing. But you know what? I actually think society’s perceptions of autism are changing.

There is so much more information out there, and this has been a joint effort between autistic individuals, parents and professionals. So why can’t we all work together? The autism community talk about needing greater understanding from the general public, but what we really need is greater understanding within our own online autism community.