Important factors to consider when writing, speaking about or having discussions about our children; whether it be in an email to an educator, a conversation with a medical professional, a chat with a family member, or sharing on social media.
1. Does my loyalty lie with my child? Am I being an ally to them, supporting them to be understood, respected as whole and complete people, accepted and embraced by all?
2. Is my language appropriate and respectful toward autistic identity and culture? Does it highlight my child's strengths or does it amplify their challenges, encouraging a disorder narrative?
3. I can ask others to address my child, rather than me when and where appropriate. In the creation of IEPs, in the discussions that occur with our family Paediatrician, wherever it is appropriate, my child has the right to be a participant in the decisions made about them and their life.
4. Do I advocate for my child's rights in alignment with their autistic identity? Do I correct professionals, family and friends who insist on eye contact or other various neuronormative expressions from my child?
5. I can insist that my child's educators only discuss positive points in their presence and within ear shot, and leave the rest for a communication book or an email where I am free to decide how to approach the situation with my child inside of our family values in alignment with autistic identity and culture for my child.
6. When I share stories, experiences, thoughts, feelings and/or add to discussions on social media and in emails, how would my child feel if they were to read it? How would they feel knowing others have that information about their personal life?
7. When my child communicates with me, do I explore various communicative forms with them or only insist on verbal communication? Am I focused on the superficial understanding of their behaviour or do I explore their internal experience?
8. Do I seek out autistic voices, autistic content, autistic mentoring and autistic peers for my children in order for them to know and understand their identity, culture and their "normal" before deciding what is good and right for them when engaging in information on offer from non autistic professionals?
9. Where my comments or input in autistic spaces is resisted, hidden or removed, do I explore or reach out and ask why? Do I understand that in autistic spaces, there are thousands of autistic people reading and internalising content based on them and what I consider harmless may actually in fact, be hurtful or harmful to them?
10. Do I understand what it is to be culturally respectful in Neurodivergent spaces? Do I seek information from a range of autistic spaces and sources?
Image Credit: Kelvin Octa
(Image description: A photo of mother and daughter. The mother holds her young child in her arms and they are looking at each other laughing and smiling. The young girl is playfully pulling on her mothers hair.)
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