It didn’t take long after getting A-Man’s autism diagnosis to realize that I wasn’t a very popular autism mom… I use identity language. I listen to disabled self-advocates. I celebrate neurodiversity, and I’m doing all that I can to teach A-Man self-advocacy. When I joined a few autism support groups I quickly realized that these differences were extreme, and they made it difficult to fit in. So what do you do when you don’t fit in autism support groups?
When You Don’t Fit in Autism Support Groups
I really tried to fit in. But then a debate about autism therapies would start and I’d be severely outnumbered as a parent trying to support autistic self-advocates opinions. Or I’d say “my son is autistic” and several parents would lecture me about saying “has autism”. Or someone would tell me that I couldn’t understand because A-Man and I are both considered “high functioning“.
I needed an autism support group where autistic self-advocates like myself feel safe. I needed an autism support group where posts about “hating autism” weren’t okay, and where the parents were really trying to understand and accept their autistic kiddos instead of changing them to act more neurotypical.
Why Autism Moms Need Support Groups
See, I’m not anti-support group at all. I really believe that autism moms need support groups. While there’s tons of benefits to autism, there are a lot of hard moments, too. There’s a lot of learning that happens while we try to understand our autistic kiddos, and there’s bound to be some stumbling blocks along the way.
While we do our best to explain autism, sometimes we need a group where everyone already understands. We need a group where we can post about picking the wrong bowl color and how that derailed our entire day, and no one will say “well my kid would never get away with that!”
The Problem With Most Autism Support Groups
The biggest problem I have with most autism support groups is that autistic voices get drowned out. Parents tend to be set in their ways, and they really don’t want to hear that what they’re doing has hurt autistic people before. Autistic self-advocates who mention certain parenting practices could be harmful are seen as “bullies” and their comments and posts deleted, or they even get kicked out of the group.
This only furthers the divide between parents of autistic kids and autistic self-advocates. I know first hand how wide this divide is, as I’ve got one foot on each side. I’m an autism mom and I’m autistic. It makes my heart hurt when a group of autism parents will listen to me as a mom-blogger but questions me when I’m presented as an autistic person. We need a group that connects these two sides of the autism community.
Finding a Support Group That Embraces Autism
I set out to find a support group that embraces autism, and I haven’t found any that were quite the right fit. I want a group where autism moms who want to raise their kids to be strong self-advocates can come for support. A group where autistic self-advocates can post without fear of having their tone policed and being called bullies. A group where posts about hating autism and other ableist posts just aren’t allowed.
Well, since I haven’t found just the right group yet, I’ve decided to create it for moms like you and me.
An Autism Support Group Just For You!
Embracing Autism is a new group on Facebook that aims to understand and celebrate autism of all kinds. This isn’t a group only for parents or only for autistic self-advocates. It’s a group that aims to cross the wide divide in the autism community and help parents and self-advocates learn from each other to best help the next generation of autistic self-advocates.
If you’ve been looking for a group where you can work towards understanding, accepting, and embracing your child’s (or your own!) autism with other parents and self-advocates on the same journey as you, you’ve found your place. I don’t promise to know all the answers (or even half of them) but I do promise to be there to support you in your journey, whichever side of the divide you’re on. Together we can celebrate successes, support each other on hard days, and step closer towards truly embracing autism each and every day. Enter your info below and join the Embracing Autism group to finally feel like you fit in an autism support group!