I am a parent of a 13 year old girl with severe autism. She can’t advocate for herself, as you are able to. I hope that one day she may be able to do that. I hope she will also be able to dress herself, tie her own shoes, go to the bathroom independently, brush her own teeth, understand safety risks, be able to protect herself from potential abusers, live independently – and so much more.
When a parent says they wish their child could talk, it’s not that we aren’t listening to non-verbal communication. Don’t assume that we don’t understand our children, no one loves and understands them more. There is NOTHING more heartbreaking than to see the child you love more than life itself suffering in pain – and not able to communicate to you, in any way – where it hurts.
My friend’s daughter was repeatedly abused on her school bus and couldn’t tell. Countless kids are sexually assaulted and cannot tell. It goes on and on. Don’t criticize parents for wishing that their children were capable of effective verbal communication. Don’t criticize parents for wanting more for their severely-affected kids than a future of 24/7 care, and for worrying about what will happen to them when we are gone. Don’t criticize us for LOVING our children. As an autistic self-advocate, please consider HELPING your severely affected brothers and sisters with autism who are so much less fortunate than you. Let’s hope that they will be able to express themselves as well as you can one day.
Wendy Fournier, mom of three. Her daughter Aly was diagnosed with autism at 2 and half years old. Fournier also is an autism advocate, currently serving as president of the National Autism Association and also own a web design company.