Friday, 22 November 2013

Can Autistic Parents Be Good Parents?

An Autistic woman not much older than me is in the process of losing custody of her second child.  There are a lot of factors behind the fight, but the one that everyone seems to be focusing on is the fact that she has autism.  People have decided, apparently, that individuals with autism can't be good parents.  I've heard that so much recently and I'm very upset about it.  I've been struggling with how to discuss this concept in a blog post, but here goes:

Autistics are people.

It is true that our brains are different than neurotypical brains.  It is true that we often do things differently than neurotypical people.  It is true that we might be quirky or need more help with certain tasks than others.  But it does not make us less than human.

There are lots of Autistics who don't want kids.  There are lots of Autistics who don't like kids.  But there are lots of people in those categories too.  It is true that some Autistics may need more support and teaching when it comes to parenting, but it is not true or right or even remotely okay to blanket that in the completely untrue fact that "All Autistics would make / do make bad parents."

There are lots of neurotypical individuals out there who are bad parents too, but we don't hear about them, or when we do, we don't focus on their labels.  When it is an Autistic individual (who does anything!), the first thing people report is that that person is Autistic.  And that's where the focus remains.  Autism has all sorts of negative connotations because anything an Autistic individual does presented as something they did because of their neurochemistry.

I do not have any children yet.

Yet.

I want children.  I have always wanted children.  For a long time I didn't think I'd be able to have children because I struggle so much in relationships (with anyone) that I never expected to have a romantic partner or a support system in place, but I've miraculously been blessed with both.  Everyone close to me knows that I'm Autistic.  And sure, I do some weird things and they "blame it on the autism," but we all do weird things, mine just be a bit more noticeable at times.

That doesn't mean I'll be a bad parent.

I can't wait to be a parent and I have felt that way since I was a child myself.  I've always loved kids and am excited to one day have my own.

I think I'll be an excellent parent.