Yesterday I ran my first 5k. Well, about a third of a 5k (the rest was power walking but looking like I might break back into a run any minute because I’m just taking a break and I’m totally in great shape, really). It was a fundraising event to benefit local programs and services for autistic adults. We are fortunate in our city to have this, as adults on the spectrum are so often underserved.
It was a great event and a good experience, but as a high-functioning adult with two kids who, as of yet, have not been diagnosed with ASD, I was in an odd place. I have not yet required any services myself, but I am markedly different from the NT parents. I saw a young man gently tossing his baseball glove in the air and young girl dancing to the music, and I thought about how I wanted to do those things and how calming and freeing it would be, but I supress these urges and keep my own stims discreet to blend in with the others. Yet these attempts to blend in work only so well. I can pass as “normal” at first glance, but after interacting with me for any length of time people sometimes notice that something’s slightly off. I often feel, as parent with high-functioning ASD, as though I am between two worlds, half autistic and half NT, belonging to both and not quite belonging in either.
I think though, that this is a place that we parents on the spectrum have a important role to play. We can help to repair the fractious divisions within the autistic community by serving as ambassadors of sorts between parents and autistic individuals. We can advocate for ourselves while also advocating for our children. We can serve as examples of what is possible, that having a disability that impacts communication and social skills does not need to confine a person to a life of solitude. We can, and do, can shatter stereotypes.