Family members ask, " How can I encourage my Autistic loved one to do things they don't want to do?" Autistic adults ask, "What steps can I take to openly be myself and accept who I am?"
Hi. Thanks for being here. I'm Dr. Alondra Rogers, a social worker and Autism Consultant. I'm also a parent of an Autistic child and a late-diagnosed Autistic/ADHD woman. I support families with Autistic members, Autistic adults, and organizations that serve them. Today, I'm answering my two most commonly asked questions as an Autism Consultant.
What families are looking for
Family members usually seek support because they see their Autistic loved one not being able to do something they believe they can and should be doing. This can include working a steady job for adults, going to school regularly for children, spending less time on devices, or going out to do social activities.
Families are looking for ways to help their loved ones thrive in the way they believe they should. They want them to be more social, to be less focused on one thing. Essentially, they want their loved ones to be less Autistic.
What Autistic adults are looking for
When adults seek out consulting with me they generally want support in accepting themselves and managing to be content in the world when they are constantly asked to do things they have no desire to do. They want to help untangling the difficult feelings they have about themselves and their families. They want to know how to be with their families when their families don't understand them even when they are aware that their family members are likely undiagnosed with neurodivergences.
How do these relate to each other?
There is a connection here. Families spend years trying to form Autistic members into conforming enough to be independent and safe in the world, but tragically, the efforts are often harmful and leave Autistic people feeling like they are broken people who can only be accepted if they pretend to be like everyone else.
Families--if you are trying to support your Autistic loved one, be gentle. Autism is a disability. Your loved one can and will learn new skills and adapt. However, there are things they can not do. Forcing it causes damage. Support them in doing what they want to do. Accept them as they are. Offer genuine understanding, and when needed, get them affirming professional assistance.
Autistics--I'm sorry that you've not been able to openly be yourself and be accepted. Please accept yourself and find community that will do the same. Help your family understand your needs. If they are not willing to do so, you can assert boundaries and distance yourself if possible.