If Only Autistc Adults Could Get ABA! (Not Really)
Guess what I saw today! Hint – it was very rare. No, not a feminist member of the Tea Party donating money to a homeless shelter – even rarer. It was an article discussing the radical idea that maybe society should acknowledge that Autistic people over the age of ten might need a bit of support. Don’t worry though, like almost every other article about autism, it just suggests that we give researchers more money for “studies” and give Autistic people better “interventions” and more drugs. Don’t want to get too radical after all.
For the most part it was just your usual “1 in 88” kind of piece citing CDC statistics, using verbiage one would apply to the discussion of a disease etc. Everyone in these pieces is always “suffering” from autism and the intended audience in never Autistic people ourselves (because everybody knows that we can’t read) but rather our parents.
Two things make this article worth mentioning, though, the fact that somebody finally remembered grown up Autistic people, and the fact that people still just don’t get it. It’s not just the author of the piece though, judging by a comment after the article that one member of the intended audience made. Apparently “these kids” need to have access to ABA just like little kids, because that’s how “they” learn. Well, as a former member of the “these kids” club I would like to share another suggestion.
Now, I know that this may sound kinda wacky, but maybe instead of giving us better drugs or access to rote memorization in an artificial environment you could give us the following: the opportunity to learn age appropriate information, however we as individuals learn best (hint: we are not BORG), in a sensory-friendly and safe environment, the opportunity to “obsess” as much as want about subjects that interest us, and the right to self-regulate in any way that works well for us (even if it looks weird and embarrasses you.) Maybe, if you’re feeling particularly generous you could even stop assuming you know exactly what we can’t do and start presuming that we know and understand much more than what you realize.
If you want to help Autistic people have a successful and happy future, the way to do it is not through more studies, drugs and ABA. It’s through respect, acceptance and empathy. Still, I guess the fact that someone wrote something that acknowledged us is a start. Who knows, maybe someday somebody will even figure out that most of us can read.