I think it is funny, in an ironic way, that so many people try to tell us how to identify and refer to ourselves. They say we shouldn’t use identity first language when we say we are autistic. We should say we are people with autism because we are people first.
But I know I am a person and it seems odd to me that they need me to remind them when I talk about myself.
And then they use our identity to refer to themselves. They say they are an autism parent or an autism family, placing autism first in their identity even though they aren’t autistic, when they are explaining why they should get sympathy over how hard their life is because a family member is autistic.
When the double standard is pointed out they justify their use of our identity as theirs by saying they are just trying to be understood and explain to others so they will understand what their life is like. But there are other ways to easily do that. There are ways that are more effective, considering the range of erroneous beliefs and misconceptions about autism that abound.
I am not an “autism parent”. I am a parent.
I do not parent autism. I parent my children.
Some of my children have sensory sensitivities, some have sleep challenges, some have difficulty in social situations, some need support with looking after themselves, some need help with emotional regulation. I meet each of their individual needs to the best of my ability, no matter what they are.
I am not a “parent with autism”. I am an autistic parent.
I don’t carry autism with me as an added extra. It is part of who I am.
I experience sensory, communication, sleep and executive function challenges. I am strong, persistent, and compassionate. Being autistic adds strength to the way I parent.
My children are not “children with autism”. They are autistic children.
My children don’t have a better version of themselves hiding underneath their autism.
It is integral to who they are and they are amazing just as they are- fun, funny, energetic, curious, determined, resourceful, empathetic and smart.
We are not an “autism family”. We are a family.
Some of us are autistic. Some of us aren’t.
We are noisy, diverse, caring, messy, loyal, neurodivergent, proud and happy. Just like so many other families out there. All the members of our family are valuable, and we each have our own identities without having to claim the identity of anyone else to get sympathy from others.