It’s happened to me twice in the last couple of months. Being an Autistic adult and being completely excluded from events that involve Autistic/Neurodivergent children and their parents.
I don’t want anyone to think that i’m negating the importance of a parents role in their child’s life, and the fact that Autism is genetic. More likely than not, the parents are neurodivergent.
However, when it comes to Autistic advocates who happen to be adults, myself and many others are often left out of the narrative, planning and the conversations that go on.
Recently, I challenged a local group because they were running a “Let’s talk Neurodiversity” panel with professionals who work closely with neurodivergent youth, but not a single neurodivergent adult was actually included in the conversation. When I asked why and explained that when you’re talking about a marginalized group, but you choose to ACTIVELY and CONSCIOUSLY exclude the people from that very group that you’re discussing, the response I was met with was “But it’s for parents”, repeatedly.
I was not pleased with this. Finally, I was allowed to do an introduction and was told i’d be part of the conversation. This was not the case, I did my introduction and was left out of the rest of it. I was told i’d be part of the question and answer session at the end and I was not.
This week, I was made aware of an Autism Acceptance Day event going on at the Museum of Vancouver through a facebook advertisement. I asked them if any Autistic adults were involved in any of the planning, and through multiple messages, it was made clear to me that it wasn’t the case.
The most ironic realization I have come to is that these organizations and events work so very hard to make a point of including families with neurodivergent children and providing events and resources for their children, but the idea that their children are going to grow up and become adults seems to be lost on them. I wonder how we’re supposed to truly empower children if they realize that when they become adults, that they’ll be seemingly excluded from anything related to Autism.
It’s important to do better, create opportunities and empower each other, instead of touting inclusion and diversity and leaving out an important demographic.