When the goal is to be normal
Many autism therapies have as their goal to make autistic children “normal,” or “indistinguishable from their peers.”
This is the goal of many parents, autism professionals, and even many autistics themselves. It was my goal for a long time.
It’s so tempting. It’s normal to want to be normal. 😉
This is not my goal anymore.
When the goal is belonging
When someone says they want to be normal, what I think they really want is to fit in, to be accepted by the group, to belong.
It’s the belonging, the acceptance that we’re really after. Not being the same.
It took me years to take off the mask of pretending to be normal — which didn’t really work anyway — and to accept that who I am is valuable just as I am.
What the goal is not
Does that mean I don’t have goals for improvement? Of course not. There are many challenges I’m grateful to have solved, and some I’m still figuring out.
AND…I was born in this world the way that I am, which means I have a right to be in this world the way that I am. My happy, flappy autistic self.
So when I talk about removing barriers to being your best self, I am not talking about removing the autism to find a normal child underneath.
I’m talking about tracking down sensory stressors, integrating sensory perception, rewriting learned anxieties with more positive experiences, finding tricks to deal with common stressors that can’t be avoided, reframing autism to remove the stigma…in general, feeling more safe in one’s own body, more comfortable in one’s own skin.
Because I’m here to stay.