The other day I was reading an article on Facebook. It was about an adult on the autism spectrum who had defied the odds. As a mother who often worries about my son’s future, it gave me hope. Once I began to read the comments, I learned there is division among parents with children on the spectrum.
Some parents expressed their concerns about non-verbal children not receiving enough attention in autism community. One said many heartwarming stories are not about those are “truly autistic” and even went as far as saying Aspergers should not be included on the autism spectrum.
There were others in agreement with this parent. I clicked on various articles and discovered similar banter in the comments section. I was in shock.
I had no idea about the growing gap between parents of non-verbal children and parents of verbal children. It saddens me to know that some parents think that verbal children are less autistic. The autism disorder spectrum is a wide range of behaviors, social skills, and language development impairments.
Lately, it appears to be the great debate between “low functioning” and “high functioning”. Those classified on the low functioning end require more services and care. They are less likely to live independently. People who are more verbal and have some social skills are considered high functioning. Also, they have a greater chance to live on their own.
Yet, all parents have the same fears for their children’s futures. A common worry for parents is what should happen to their children once they’re no longer on this earth. All parents want what’s best for their children.
To say that one’s life with a more severe autistic child matters more than one with a child that displays moderate or mild traits is unfair. Raising a child on the spectrum can be arduous and inspiring at the same time. Services and treatment has been beneficial to all those on the spectrum. It’s extremely rewarding to see any child make strides in their life.
Many non-verbal children have developed language skills. There are children who have language skills but still struggle with social skills. Many of them have the ability to improve on non-verbal social cues. Complaints that one group isn’t “autistic enough” in comparison to another group on the spectrum is simply wrong.
In some situations, children who are verbal are often labeled as “unruly” when they have a meltdown. Often, they don’t receive the compassion like those who don’t have the language skills. This usually comes from those who don’t have relationships with people on the spectrum. I wouldn’t expect this from other parents raising a child with autism.
Ultimately, it is human nature to have a desire to engage with with others. Whatever the barrier is to accomplish that goal can be problematic.
All people on the autism spectrum deserve the services they require. All people on the spectrum have the right to be treated with respect and dignity.
There is enough mistreatment and misunderstanding coming from some outside the autism community. We must band together as a community and support ALL those living with autism…regardless of where are placed on the spectrum.