This blog post was written by Shawna Wingert, a blogger and mom to a son with autism. You can read more stories about her and her family at nottheformerthings.com.
I recently referred to myself as an ‘Autism Mom’.
I honestly didn’t know that could be offensive to some, but it apparently is – like really offensive. Because it implies that I “have” something that is not mine at all. It implies that I am trying to own something that belongs entirely to my son.
I think I understand…at least I want to understand.
I never want anyone to assume that I somehow think that my son’s autism is about me.
It’s not. His life, his body, his brain, his existence includes autism at it’s closest possible level. It’s part of his very make-up.
Good and bad. Easy and difficult. Day in and day out.
Autism is his, and his alone.
I do however, think that parenting a child with autism, is mine.
Being a momma of a child with autism has it’s own challenges, it’s own rewards, it’s own misunderstandings, it’s own joy, and it’s own grief.
And talking about it, writing about it, being honest about it, and owning it – matters.
It matters for the parents who are struggling, who feel lonely, who are misunderstood every single time they speak with doctors and teachers and therapists.
But even more so, it matters for the children with autism diagnoses themselves.
Children need to have a parent, autism or not, who is trying to understand, trying to learn, and trying to help them be uniquely them. (On a much smaller level, I think it’s like calling myself a ‘soccer mom’. I may not play soccer, but if I refer to myself as such, you know I am working to support my child in it.)
I think a neuro-typical parent and a child with autism need to be on the same team. More over, neuro-typical parents of children with autism, need to be able to identify other parents in the same circumstances, with the same needs.
We are trying to figure this out, together – for our children.
It’s why I call myself an autism mom.
I think it means I am not afraid of the word ‘autism’. I am not ashamed of the word ‘autism’. Nor am I trying to claim any extra entitlement to it other than this –