Reflections from an autistic parent of autistic children
When my first child was diagnosed as autistic, I was full of ableism and, wanting to be the best mother, researcher and social worker I could be, I read all of the evidence summaries and papers I could get my hands on. I read many books by psychologists and ‘experts’. I read one book by an autistic adult, who lead me to believe all autistics think in pictures.
Steeped in ableist grief, I somehow discovered facebook page, Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance. Then We Are Like Your Child. I read and read. I found Amy Sequenzia at Ollibean and Alyssa Hillary’s blog, Yes That Too not long after we started using AAC.
I read some more.
I discovered Cynthia Kim’s writing about autistic women and motherhood, and just when I realised I was also autistic, I came across Ally Grace, and read her delicious descriptions of her family life.
I felt I had come home.
I connected with autistic activists, advocates and bloggers. I read and I read, and I read some more: Kassiane Sibley, Nick Walker, Ibby Grace, Sparrow Rose Jones, Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, Michael Scott Monje, Jr., Emily Paige Ballou.
My cup could never be full from reading the words, and hearing the voices, and experiencing the art of Autistic people.
And so, I am delighted to see many of the pieces of writing that helped turn my grief in to acceptance here in Michelle Sutton’s book, The Real Experts. I am honoured to have written a piece that stands alongside people whose words helped me understand autism in a way that reflected my own essence so much that I could own identity as autistic/ queer/ mother.
I wish I had been handed The Real Experts when my child was diagnosed. I wish in those early, confusing days, I could have read Ally Grace’s ‘Letter to an Autism Mama’, had Amy, Emily and Alyssa challenge my thinking on identity and disability, discovered Sparrow and Kassiane’s passionate words on behavioural interventions, and then, seen myself in the writing of Ibby, Cynthia, Michael, Nick, and Morénike.
I hope The Real Experts finds its way to the hands and hearts of many parents, professionals, and others who care for autistic children. I hope they find it early. I know it will have a profound impact on their parenting and understanding of autistic children.
Thanks to Michelle Sutton for curating this anthology and Autonomous Press for publishing The Real Experts. I truly believe this book will create the same shift in thinking and sense of coming home for other parents, as each of the individual contributors has created for me.
Where can I buy The Real Experts?
The words of the Autistic people I mention in this post, and who have impacted me so greatly, can be found here:
- Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance
- We Are Like Your Child
- Yes That Too
- Radical Neurodivergence Speaking
- Shaping Clay
- Musings of an Aspie
- Non-speaking Autistic Speaking
- Suburban Autistics
- Unstrange Mind
- Just Being Me…
- Tiny Grace Notes
- Chavisory’s Notebook
The Real Experts is edited by Michelle Sutton. Her writing work and neurodiversity resources are at michellesuttonwrites.com
The Real Experts is published by Autonomous Press, an independent press cooperatively owned by disabled workers. You might be interested in their other books about disability, neurodivergence, and the various ways they can intersect with other aspects of identity and lived experience.