I have a pet peeve. People trying to pigeonhole my family into a group of labels drives me mad. I do not have a problem with the labels themselves. I realize that labels are sometimes very useful when it comes to getting medical and therapeutic services. I just want others to remember there is more to my family’s life than Autism.
I am a caregiver, true. However, even with my neurotypical children, technically, I was their caregiver. True, my neurodiverse children need additional care. But they are all on equal footing in many ways. To make one child stand out in my family merely based on the diagnosis of Autism is sort of unfair. Each person in the family has their own strengths and weaknesses. Just because one child might require more time and attention does not mean thar within our family we see them as anything other than our child.
You would never address someone with an illness as “the Cancer Lady” or “That Crippled Man”. Everyone knows that comes across as callus and rude. We would all ignore the label probably. If we did address it, it would be “The lady with Cancer” or “that man who is crippled”. The person is acknowledged first, then the underlying issue may, or may not, be addressed.
For some reason, when it comes to Autism, the diagnosis is sometimes first and foremost. To me this takes away from the identity of that said person. Autism is a part of our daily life, a large part at times. It is not our whole existence though.
Please allow my (grand)child to be a child. Allow me to be a (grand)parent. We know we do not lead a neurotypical life. Though, in many aspects, our life is typical.
My husband jokingly says, ” neurotypical people are the weird ones”. Normal is in the eye of the beholder. Our family life is typical… to us.
There are times I like to vent and even complain. Think about it, everyone complains about something at some time. It doesn’t mean I want your pity. I don’t want sympathy. I don’t even expect you to understand what I am dealing with. Like with any parent, I am grateful for a friendly listening ear and shoulder to lean on from time to time.
Allow me to be a mom, a wife, a person. Allow my (grand)child to be a kid, my wonderful, unique, quirky kid. Treat us as normal. Fact is, no one is ever truly “normal”. Thank God we all are not exactly the same. A Neurodiverse Life can be hard at times, but it is never boring.
While we can gladly embrace our differences, let us also remember that in many ways, we are all the same. Let us increase acceptance and inclusion of all people while embracing neurological differences. Allow families to be families and not a group of labels. Let us all learn to view Autism as just another way of being and not a disease.