“You can give your child a happy life, if you never listen to the people who try to shame you, who say that your child shouldn’t exist…”
Friends, I am so grateful that Lysandre, a 21 year old french student, has shared with us his experiences as an autistic and bisexual young person. Lysandre answers questions from Russian parents of autistic and queer children, sent out to our community by activist Ayman Eckford (more about this here).
Please take time to really soak up Lysandre’s message to parents and to fellow LGBTQIA autistics.
So, my child is autistic. Will their experiences be different from the experiences of cis hetero autistic children or neurotypical queer teens? What should I consider?
Yes, it will. I’m 21, and I’m autistic and bisexual. My experiences have been different from my peers, even the queer ones. Because, for example, I don’t really understand the rules of flirting, and some general social rules. So being a teenager was a really hard time for me, with all this new rules, and this changes in my body. I think that it’s really, really important to say to all children, the neurotypical ones and the autistic ones, that their body belongs to them and nobody else, and that they have the right to say no.
Being autistic sometimes makes the recognition of our own feelings difficult.
My first sexual experience isn’t a good thing to remember. Actually, it was horrible. But it wasn’t the fault of the other person. It was because I didn’t really wanted to do it, but was just feeling confused about it. I wasn’t feeling ready, but I did it because I didn’t know how to say no, or even that I could say no.
Tell your child that if they’re not sure, even if they’re already in bed with a loved one, it’s ok to say no.
Another big part of the particularity of being an autistic teenager is that our bodies work differently, and our brains work differently than others do. And we can be ashamed of that if nobody help us.
So, please, tell your child that their mind and body are right just the way they are.
And that, even if, for example, they can’t handle to be in a crowded space, dislike soft touches, don’t like to kiss, or whatever, it’s okay. And they don’t have to force themselves.
If they want to have one day a romantic and/or sexual relationship, it’s possible. Maybe it won’t be easy to find someone who can understand, but no relationship is worth forcing themselves to do things that they don’t like. And there are a lot of autistic people who are in great relationships. So, even if their lovelife is hard, they can be hopeful.
And if they’re not interested in having a relationship at all, it’s perfectly right too!
Why has this happened in our family? What mistakes have we made? It seems like I have done something wrong? How can I cope with the feeling of guilt?
You haven’t made any mistakes. And there nothing you can do about it. If your child is autistic, they will always be. And it’s fine. You can give your child a happy life, if you never listen to the people who try to shame you, who say that your child shouldn’t exist, or that they’re “a normal child locked in autism”. It’s not true. Yes, your child is different, and they’re beautiful, and I’m sure that deep in yourself, you know it.
Don’t listen to those who say that if your child is gay, trans, or bisexual, it’s because of bad parenting. Queer people exist in all kind of families, and whatever their education was!
So it’s not your fault, and above all, it’s not bad.
Is it possible my child has made a mistake coming out? Maybe they should not talk about it, or I should not take coming out so seriously?
My parents thought that it was just a phase for me when I came out as bisexual at seventeen. I’m twenty-one, and I’m bisexual. Nothing has changed. Or just one thing: because my parents didn’t want to accept me, didn’t want to believe me, because they said harmful things to me, I don’t trust them anymore. And I don’t think I will one day trust them again.
How do I learn to accept my child?
Remember that it’s your child, they’re still the same. If in your education you have learnt that LGBTQ people are monsters, demons, or inherently bad (my parents did), try to not share these thoughts with your child. It’s harmful. It could lead them to depression and suicide. I know what I’m talking about.
Instead, try not to be judgmental, and just listen to what your child has to say. If it’s overwhelming for you, or even shocking, please, don’t say anything in the moment, so that you don’t hurt your child.
Wait, until you will be ready to accept it truly. Time will help. Just listen, and say to your child that you love them.
I think I’ll feel better if I learn to talk about my child being queer. How do I learn how to talk about it? (At least on a closed support group?)
If you don’t know how to talk about it, try to begin with it! You can begin with saying that you’re feeling lost about it. It can help you to feel better.
Thanks to Lysandre for sharing so generously. You can find all of the other responses from LGBTQIA autistics here.