I spend a lot of time on this Blog urging Parents of Autistic people to seek us out to get the answers to questions that other parents and certainly ‘Professionals’ just can’t answer. 99/100 times if you have a question about Autism, the best person to ask is an Autistic one.
In my Blog called ‘Safe places online for Parents of Autistic children to learn about Autism’ I recommend the best places to go on Facebook to find both Autistic people and to find support. But apart from trawling the streets yelling for Autistic people, where else can you go?
I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine and fellow Autism Advocate, Christa Holmans. Christa wanders the world of Twitter with the intention of, in her own words: “Destroying stigma and spreading positivity”
I asked Christa why she Advocates and this is what she had to say:
“I wasn’t diagnosed until after a health scare at the age of 29. Receiving the autistic diagnosis changed my life.
“There were always questions – why were things that others found easy, so hard for me? Why did I always feel so far from everyone? A million unanswered life questions were suddenly answered and something amazing happened – I was free. Free to love and accept myself, free to stop trying so hard to “fit in”, free to finally take care of my body and mind in ways I didn’t know I needed before being diagnosed.
“Before diagnosis my self-worth had fallen pretty low. I was literally sick, stressed, and tired with no explanation. After accepting my diagnosis, and meeting the other amazing autistics online, my self esteem started to rise. I’ve never been better. I want to reach the people out there who are like I was – lost and wondering. I want them to know they are not alone.
“So… I think it is important for autistic people to live publicly. I’d heard of autism before and even reading the medical terminology I wasn’t sure I fit the criteria UNTIL I started talking to other autistic people/reading their books, Blogs, & work. When I met them, through their stories and videos, I knew I was home.”
Christa, like me, is a very strong believer that Parents of Autistic children should be talking to Autistic adults and using us as a huge resource to support both them and their children.
“Autistic people are always saying that we should be the real experts on autism, but in order to do that we need for the rest of the world (parents of autistic children, medical professionals, etc.) to ask autistic people about autism.”
Twitter is a wonderful place and it’s very easy to bump into an Autistic person, so easy in fact because of an amazing hashtag called #ActuallyAutistic. The only problem with this is that you, as a Neurotypical/Allistic person aren’t supposed to be using it. It was designed as a way of an Autistic person to sign off on a Tweet, so that other Autistics could rally with them. But, parents began to high-jack it, in the the most innocent of ways, in order to ask questions of the Autistic community. Obviously this led to lots of grumpy Autistic people growling about Neurotypicals getting in the way of collaborative activism and advocacy. Christa had a think about this:
“If we want to expand our thoughts to the wider world, we need a tag that anyone can use.”
The principal behind the idea being ANYONE Autistic or not who wants to ask an Autistic person a question can do so, using the tag #AskingAutistics.
The hashtag is already working marvellously, with Autistic people fielding questions from not only parents but newly diagnosed people too. Maybe this has taken us one step closer to true Autism Acceptance.
So if you are a parent in need, or a newly diagnosed Autistic or even just have a burning desire to learn about Autism, head over to twitter and try #AskingAutistics, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. What does Christa hope for the future?
“I would love to see more autistic people employed and more autism friendly public spaces. It would be my dream for employers to better understand the needs of autistic employees. As it is now many work places are down right hostile (unintentionally) to autistic people”
I don’t think anyone could find a negative in that.
If you’d like to say hello to Christa, pop onto Twitter and find her under the name Neurodivergent Rebel or check out her Blog called neurodivergentrebel.com or Facebook page by the same name For a little background:
Christa honestly enjoys pursuing her diverse passions. She has embodied many of these over the years, from aerial acrobatics & circus arts, to dog training & retail management. She currently enjoys living with her best friend & partner in crime, David (along with 4 dogs), in the peaceful city of Georgetown, Texas.