The Importance of Parents having Autistic Pride for and about their Autistic Children

Positive Autistic identity is at the heart of our Autistic children’s ability to achieve and sustain emotional well being.

Autism is not an add on or something a person has. This means we cannot separate autism from our child and love them, but not “it”. My son is Autistic and I love that he is Autistic; it is part of his identity.

Parenting a child who struggles with extreme anxiety is particularly tough at times. And at these times; we as Parents can feel hurt too. But never like our children do; our struggle is never as great as theirs. None of us always get this right, I know I don’t. I am not always as patient as I aim to be and I dont always say or do things in the way I would like to. However, I absolutely believe that loving all that my boy is, is fundamental to his well being. I believe that he will, with our support, find ways of managing his anxiety for himself one day. Until then, we hold space for him that is safe, kind, gentle, empowering and proud.

That safe space needs to include the words we use in relation to being Autistic too, even when we think he can’t hear us. Our feelings as Parents are important too and I believe in the importance of self care and self compassion very much. But our job as parents is always to lift our children up and if they are Autistic, that includes celebrating their Autistic identity.

For me, my son’s Autsitic identity is as intrinsic as my female identity.

I wonder how I, or you, would feel if my, or your, Mother said:

I love my daughter, but I hate that she’s a girl.

What would this do to our self worth?

If you can imagine that for a moment and then consider the phrase

I love my child, but I hate Autism.

The two phrases have the same meaning and the same effect.

And this is devastating!

On Autsitic Pride Day I celebrate my boy and promise him that I will never forget the power my words carry and I will always love every part of his Autistic identity.

I will always do this and one day he too will communicate his own Autistic pride.

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By changingthenarrativeaboutautism

Author: Integrative Counsellor, BSc (Hons) Psychology.

Neurodivergent Mother, passionate about the acceptance and respectful treatment of neurodivergent children and adults.

My personal experience, relationship and connection with my son, provides me with a depth of insight into PDA. Our family's lived experience and love for our son, has driven me to research and write about PDA.

In addition to this lived experience, which I am very gradually making sense of, my professional background supports my ability to critically reflect and make sense of some of the strengths and difficulties we face.

My career started in 1999, when I graduated with a 2:1 BSc Hons Psychology degree. As a graduate I worked in a residential care setting for Adults with Autism and Learning Disabilities. I went onto complete a further three years Integrative Counselling training and then later; two years clinical psychology training. My clinical experience includes working for the NHS, Action for Children and Relate:

For the NHS, I worked in a University Hospital Psychology and Counselling service, a Community Mental Health Team, a Parenting Team and a Community Neuro Rehabilitation Team.

For Action for Children, I worked in a Leaving Care Team, and in a residential care setting for Looked After Children.

For Relate, I worked in the young people's service providing therapy to children facing a range of difficulties from trauma, loss and separation to depression, anxiety and self-harm.

I first developed my interest in Neuroscience as an undergraduate. I connected more fully with this during my time working as a trainee alongside a very inspiring Neuropsychologist in a Community Neuro Rehabilitation team. My passion for neuroscience became even more valuable to me, when I became a parent.

The Polyvagal Theory, in particular, has been central in helping me to develop a deeper understanding of PDA.

This led me to hypothesise and write about the relationship between neuroception and PDA in my article “Highly Sensitive Neuroception May Be at The Heart of PDA”.

I hope you find this site helpful and I thank you for your participation and feedback.


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