Tuesday, April 19, 2016

No (Wo)Man's Land: Being an Autistic Mother of an Autistic Child

TPGA is observing Autism Acceptance Month by featuring accounts from autistic people about the differences accommodations (or lack thereof) make in their lives. Today's story is from Christine Langager, about being an autistic parent of an autistic child -- and the frustration of often being excluded from autistic and autism-and-parenting communities when by definition one belongs to both.

Christine Langager

Photo © Christine Langager
[image: Selfie of white woman with long braided light brown hair]

As a child, I never fit in
Always on the fringe, always looking in

As an adult, it has always been more of the same
Never fully clicking, but making my way

I met the love of my life, and finally felt that I had a place to belong
We started our family, and I looked forward to more ways to connect

As our first son got older, his intensity was clear
Play date invitations dwindled, advice was given freely and condescendingly

But wait! We all have children here, I thought
Shouldn't this give us an automatic bond?

My child didn't fit, and neither did I
My boy and I were close as can be
We did things together, and I started to read and research

Asperger's seemed like a good fit, and the neuropsych agreed
He had his diagnosis, and so much made more sense

As he got older, we became more excluded
I started to look for connection with other parents of Autistics
But our takes on Autism didn't often line up

I never viewed him as a tragedy, or a burden
Just who he is, and not something to be extinguished, but celebrated and supported

I don't go here, I thought
Again, I don't fit
How could that be? We're Autism parents!

Filling out the mountains of forms and evaluations
I noticed that many of the boxes checked for my son
Applied to me as well

Photo © Christine Langager
[image: Two lane blacktop road through dense woods]
One of his docs suggested an eval for me
I got the official stamp
I'm now a card-carrying, official Autistic!

Everything makes sense now!
My childhood, my relationships, how I tick. Hurray!

Surely I have a community of Autistic adults to fit in with
Now that I'm official!

But wait.

I'm not Autistic "enough" to fit in
I don't hate, or view "autism parents" as the enemies by default

I don't go here either.

So here I sit: Autistic Autism Mom
Tiptoeing my way around the periphery of two
Too often polarized communities

Autistic woman, and mother to an Autistic child
In No Wo(Man's) Land

Photo © Christine Langager
[image: Foggy ocean coast, with trees in background]