Family – How Much Support Can We Expect?
Recently I have been wondering just how much support it is reasonable to expect from one’s nearest and dearest regarding one’s autism.
After all, from their point of view, nothing’s changed, apart from the fact that you’ve got a shiny new piece of paper. Perhaps they could be expected to look back on past events with greater understanding – to appreciate that there was a reason behind your past ‘inappropriate’ behaviour and that you were not just being weird/antisocial/over-sensitive/un-cooperative.
Maybe even an apology for some of their past criticism would be nice.
How pleasant would it be if your close friends and family were to read selected texts on autism, so that they could gain a greater understanding of the condition and so become a dedicated ally of not just me, but autistic people everywhere.
I don’t think my mother’s read anything (unless you count the occasional hate piece in the Daily Mail). She’s also stopped ringing me – perhaps because she read that ‘autistic people don’t like phones’.
I lent my sister a copy of the latest book by Luke Beardon on adult autism, which she freely admitted to only having read part of. It’s an excellent book, but rather slim and she is a voracious reader, so I have to say that I wasn’t particularly impressed by her dedication.
My partner (let us call him Dave Wolf) has had to endure me talking about autism endlessly and I think it’s fair to say that he doesn’t find the subject quite as interesting as I do. He appears to have reached his limit and now grunts like a bored taxi driver whenever I mention it.
I understand this to a certain extent, but this lack of concern extends into other areas. Since my diagnosis, I have made the effort to connect with other autistic people via social media. Like many late diagnosed autistic adults, I was seduced by the promise of a welcoming community.
Unfortunately, social media being what it is, this sometimes ends in tears.
I am forbidden to mention this, as it comes under the umbrella of Cat-Talking-About-Autism-Again and is therefore classified as boring and is consequently an unacceptable topic of conversation.
His view on social media is:
“if it upsets you don’t go on it”,
which shows a remarkable lack of empathy.
Another thing that really winds me up is when I read news articles that contain factual errors regarding autism, particularly if the errors reinforce offensive stereotypes about autistic people. I’ve started to complain about them now, which is a positive step.
He genuinely can’t understand why I’m upset/seething with rage when I come across something that contributes to the general public’s warped views about autism. I am not just angry on a personal level, but also because it is this mis-information which is responsible for a lot of the prejudice and discrimination that autistic people face every day.
His suggestion is:
“If you don’t like it, just don’t read it”
My eyes flash.
“I’ve got an idea”, I said to him. “I’ve got a friend down the road. I’ll get him to put a sign up in his window saying ‘Dave Wolf is a convicted murderer’. This statement is both factually inaccurate and damaging. “Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a problem” I say.
“when you walk past, you can just close your eyes”