Ms. B., 41, a lawyer, accepted the way her son defined himself after she and her husband consulted with a psychologist and observed his newfound comfort with his choice. But she feels the precarious nature of the day-to-day reality. “It’s hard to convey the relentlessness of it, she said, “every social encounter, every time you go out to eat, every day feeling like a balance between your kid’s self-esteem and protecting him from the hostile outside world.” (emphasis added)How many of us raising children on or near the spectrum feel the relentlessness of the potential hostility of the social world and the demands on us to mitigate that hostility?
Reading through the autism parenting blogs one finds that hostility and fear of our children can be found almost anywhere: at schools when educators give up on our children, in supermarkets when an episode of dysregulation prompts well-meaning or terrified others to call for the police, when a child's frustration at the changing space of the city, and the shortage of taxi's, overflows and he or she is thought of as a brat with bad parents.
How do we insulate our children from the world's misunderstanding and hostility? How do we provide them with tools for self-advocacy? And how can we educate others so that misunderstanding and hostility gives way to knowledge and acceptance? These are some of the questions I'll be thinking about in the days to come.
Keywords: autism • Asperger's Syndrome • ADHD • learning disabilities • speech-language disorders • parenting • education • special education • transgender issues • LGBT issues