Autism Parenting Magazine Issue 74 (Member's Dashboard) - Page 11

PERSONAL NARRATIVE The Power of Embracing What I Don’t Know As an Autism Parent By Luke VINCENT I’m a reasonably intelligent man, but I know nothing. I’m simply a dad, only five years into my adventure as an autism parent, trying to learn and share my observations. That’s a good place to start if, like me, you want to be involved in healthy dialogues on autism. We can’t be clinging too tightly to ideas and acting like we know it all. But, we can’t keep our ideas to ourselves either. A s a parent of two boys with autism, every day feels like a struggle to find the per- fect answer. I want to appropriately direct their behavior and be productive while respecting their identities and creating happy, comfortable lives for them. How the heck do I do that? Which therapies are appropriate for them and at what point are they be- ing pushed a bit too far? If I believe there’s nothing “wrong” with my sons, which I surely do, can I justify rigorous strategies to change their behavior? Where am I supposed to draw the line? Add this to the regu- lar moment-to-moment stresses of being an autism parent, and it’s a wonder my brain hasn’t exploded yet. I find myself on the Internet looking for answers, where, if you spend even a small amount of time reading articles and lurking in comment sections, you’re exposed to all kinds of opinions on autism. Knowing nothing, as I do, I’m able to approach each point of view with an appropriate naiveté. People are remarkably good at producing compelling opinions based on their very specific experiences and the re- sulting impacts on their lives. Most perspectives are easily understandable when given consideration. A remarkable thing about today’s technology is it provides people—in particular, those who were pre- viously unwilling or unable—the option of express- ing themselves and sharing experiences. From an autism perspective, it could even mean a nonverbal Autism Parenting Magazine | Issue 74 | 11