• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”
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How Can I Best Help My ASD Child? It’s Not the Answer You Think

Empowering ASD ChildrenStop Trying to Change Me, to Modify Me! Let Me Be Me!


I am often asked to give advice on how parents can help their children navigate situations. How can they get them to do this or that, or act in a certain way that is more “normal”?

The single most important piece of advice I can offer is to love and accept your child unconditionally.  And yes—by this I mean their differences.  In fact, you should celebrate them, let them know that there difference are not only alright, but something special.

If I could have had one thing growing up I would have asked for acceptance instead of correction, instead of ridicule, instead of humiliation. Do you know what happens when no-one in your life accepts you, when everything you do is wrong, odd, peculiar, or needs to be changed? It destroys you, your heart, your soul, your mind, your spirit—every bit of you.

I understand that we as autistic people need to live in this world—a world that is predominately filled with neuro-typical people, those not like us. But I question why we need to “blend in”, why we need to cower and modify our behavior, thinking, and communication to accommodate other people who feel no need to accommodate us. How is this fair? What does this teach our children?

Growing up it taught me that I was not enough, I was inadequate, I was wrong, and the rest of the world was inherently better than me. Is that what I want to teach my children—HELL NO!

For a change I would like to see the rest of the world bend over backwards and stretch sideways to understand me, instead of the other way around—and quite frankly if I mean anything to them they will.

Maybe at this point I am getting to old to be pliable without snapping in two, or perhaps I am just too tired these days to pretend.  Too tired to pretend to be “normal”, or whatever that means.

I can tell you one thing about myself and I would bet it applies to your autistic child as it does to mine: I would rather see the world through my eyes, with my values, with my sense of logic and understanding than to be “normal”.

My thirteen-year-old Aspie said, “Mom, being different is good, but feeling weird is not.”

He is right!  I look at the world around me and I don’t want to be like the masses, like the sheep following the status quo blindly—I want to be different. But to be empowered, to dare to be different confidently requires not feeling weird.

When everything we do, say, think, or feel is corrected or modified to better suit a neuro-typical world we are not empowered to be ourselves, we are in-part crushed, pressed down and made to “feel weird.”

Maybe, just maybe—I don’t have to change, your child does not have to change, maybe it is the world that needs to change.

~Just my thoughts for today…

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.