As I scroll through Autism Tiktok I see many people who either are autistic or are close to someone with autism. More often than not I see a sense of divide. Often this divide is between lower support needs autistic people who are able to communicate for themselves and parents of those with higher support needs. Some parents express that autistic self-advocates dominate the conversation surrounding autism, often without taking into account those who are unable to advocate for themselves and not taking into account parents’ voices. On the other hand, some autistic people accuse parents of oversharing information about their child and dismissing their own support needs and experience.
I am a person with relatively low support needs. I see both sides of the argument. It is easy to get caught up in linguistics and finger pointing, but that gets us nowhere.
First off, everyone’s experience is valid regardless of if you are autistic or not. Many people with autism would not be where they are today without a strong advocate, which is often times their parents. Autism is a spectrum and when talking about your experience it is important to note many people with autism have vastly different experiences. Not everyone on the spectrum is able to communicate, in that case, it is essential to listen to what those who know them best have to say.
I propose that those on the spectrum as well those who support us, when navigating heated online discussions: give the other person the benefit of the doubt. At the end of the day while productive debate can be helpful, arguing and finger-pointing get us nowhere.
Support for all autistic people is lacking and often expensive. Blaming each other for problems we all face gets us nowhere. We must remember although we are different, we are all in this together. We must not go after each other but work together to help create a better world for all autistic people.
Getty image by Maria Ponomariova