Loneliness is a complex problem of epidemic proportions, affecting millions from all walks of life.
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Neurodiversity, Disability, and Growing Into Parenthood
Telling a parent not to be narcissistic is about as useful as telling a child to ignore a candy store’s display window. Parents are wired to see their babies as perfect mirrors.
The television producer suggested that my daughter skip class the day of filming. She has too much to say and too little control over when she says it.
Columbus, cognitive dissonance and autism shed light on our coping strategies.
If I take a box of pens from a store without paying, I commit shoplifting. But suppose I take a box of pens from the office where I work. Will my coworkers judge me a thief?
How do we find our place in the world? By standing up and telling the stories in which we play the starring role.
Maybe x is the problem, maybe x is part of the problem, or maybe x is irrelevant to the problem. With regard to sewing machines, much like my children, I will never know.
The strongest parents absorb the professionals' good advice, ignore the useless commentary, and treat themselves with compassion. But most of us are not among the strongest.
Without a social brain, imperfection is never “normalized;” the soothing mantra “Everybody feels this way sometimes” cannot be internalized.
All parents commit missteps, but the fact is that ours seem more consequential. Is being good, good enough?
I would not want someone else to speak for me; to decide what I want and what I need; to judge whether my life is worth living. But autism is a family affair. We all need a voice.
Young children accept any playmate who is not hostile. It is the parents who usually communicate discomfort, caution or pity, and it is the parents who have the most to learn.
For counterfactual thinking to be functionally beneficial, we need a coherent story of cause and effect that makes us an essential actor in the story.
Some gene variants associated with autism are also significantly associated with high intelligence. “Smart” genes are advantageous from an evolutionary standpoint, so they persist.
Behavior is a form of communication, and more often than not, especially in young children, it is not communicating a desire to be non-compliant or troublesome.
The mother—and now the father too—are still suspect. Suspected of what? Nobody knows for sure, but whatever it is, we are expected to defend ourselves against it.
We have tried visual strategies; we have tried planning discussions; we have tried scripts' we have tried first/then; we have tried IEP goals; and we have tried threats.
Figuring out when asserting yourself reflects courage and when it reflects imprudence takes, for many of us, a lifetime.
"Famous people with autism" lists are not created primarily to motivate our children. They exist to motivate us adults to adjust our own beliefs about autism.
Lying through your teeth requires more social awareness than most of us appreciate.
Autism is associated with rigid thinking, restricted interests, and a literal interpretation of speech and behavior. How could a person with these traits possibly be creative?
If your child needs the space to get up and walk around the classroom, what difference does it make if that need arises from AD/HD or ASD?
The lowerarchy is more than a boundary; it is an edifice of alternating comfort and despair, always at the expense of other people and their children.
Instead of using the rhetoric of “better than,” we shift to “not as bad-off as,” as in “my kid is not as bad-off as yours. "We’ve created a lowerarchy.
Identifying a person as disabled entails locking that person into a world of very limited expectations. Having a disability describes all of us.
We will want the predictability of our routines. Even the meltdowns will reassure us that our own small corner of the world is recognizable—and still needs tending.
My family’s DNA is a coveted commodity. Our older daughter is autistic, and researchers want our blood and saliva. Once upon a time I would have happily donated. Not now.
Barb Cohen is a teacher, writer, and educational advocate with seventeen years of experience parenting an autistic daughter.