It’s taken me half of the day to gather my thoughts on what I am about to tell you.
You see, my son is autistic. And if you want to get technical and use labels, most would say he is moderate to higher functioning.
One thing I just always seem to keep reading and hearing is that because my son is “higher function”, he (and his parents) must have it easier. That because my child may not be prone to meltdowns or self injurious behavior and is verbal, that we aren’t presented the same challenges as those whose children are self-injurious, prone to meltdowns, and non-verbal.
And let me tell you, I can fully acknowledge that yes, I don’t experience the same challenges that parents of severely autistic children face on a daily basis. I know that my child isn’t self-injurious. I know he is verbal. I also know that it has been a long time since his last meltdown. And I can appreciate and have compassion for the parents that do have severely autistic children. I’m friends with these parents. I love them and their children. I look up to them as parents and reach out to them for support, knowing that I may not have it as hard as they do. I do my best each and every day to let these friends of mine know that I’m trying to understand their journey, that they have my support, thoughts, and prayers. That even though, I don’t fully understand, I get it on some level and they are not alone. We are in this together.
But let me make something clear to you. You must have me mistaken if you think I don’t face any challenges at all with my high functioning autistic child.
No, my challenges are not the same as those with severely autistic children.
But how can we compare?
When you compare your severely autistic child to my higher functioning child and say mine has it easier, you undermine my child’s autism diagnosis. You undermine his struggles and deficits. You disregard my trials as a parent.
That doesn’t make me feel supported.
That makes me feel like instead of autism bringing us together, it’s dividing us.
People. Get. It. Together.
We have something in common, you and I. Our children are on the autism spectrum.
Let that be the reason we come together and support one another. No matter our differences in the challenges we face. While it’s easy to compare, don’t let that hinder your sight to the bigger picture.
The bigger picture is not letting our children’s differences divide an already divided world.
Let’s come together, work together, and bring forth the efforts and progress needed to accommodate all of those on the autism spectrum.
Let’s spread awareness about the spectrum, it’s sub-types, and co-morbidities.
Let’s get the acceptance we all hope, wish, and pray for.
Let’s stop comparing and start supporting each other as parents.