X is for Xenagogue
Shoutout to my friend Julie for the link to X words!
A xenagogue is someone whose job is to guide people in a foreign place, and I've chosen this word because autistic adults can fill this role to parents who are new to the autism world; it is an essential role and one of the keys to autism acceptance, both for the autistic individual and wider society.
So first of all, welcome! Welcome to our world, our language, our culture!
I have said in previous posts, particularly in E is for Experience, that autistic adults are an invaluable resource when it comes to navigating the autism world. For the neurotypical visitor, especially one who has only just arrived, it can seem baffling and confusing, a different language they do not yet understand or speak, different cultural conventions, unfamiliar services and resources, an overload of information that makes little to no sense to the outsider and the uninitiated.
There is so much out there to navigate, and a lot of it is conflicting, so much is from harmful sources, so much telling you that you need to "battle" and "defeat" autism, that method X or treatment Y will miraculously "cure" autism, that it is this terrible, insidious monster that invades and destroys everything in your and your loved ones' lives, that there is a "normal" (ie. neurotypical) child "trapped" inside this "shell" of autism. And because information and resources are so heavily dominated by clinicians and Warrior Parents™ it is overwhelmingly doom-and-gloom, fear-based, deficit-based and unaccepting.
But that need not be the case! Autistic adults, especially those of us who are also advocates, are here as xenagogues! We can show you:
- There is nothing wrong with being autistic
- That being autistic is a perfectly natural and acceptable thing
- How to accept neurological variations as equally valid as the NT state
- You can be authentically and happily autistic
- The positives of an autistic brain
- Our language and culture, in order to help you understand our way
- All methods of communication
- Helpful things that make life easier and more enjoyable
- Dangerous things before you get dragged towards them
- How to live and thrive here, autistically
- Positive role-models who enable autistic children to grow into confident, happy autistic adults, accepting of their identity and comfortable with their place in the world
- Ways of accessing support and accommodations
- And pretty much anything you can think of about an autistic life! (I am always happy to answer just about any question - I spent two years as an occupational therapy student and I'm part of the Deaf community, so it takes a lot to embarrass me! - so just drop me a line.)
We, autistic adults, especially those of us who are advocates, are your guides! We can translate and explain the language used, we can inform you of and explain cultural conventions (because autistic culture really is a thing), we can help you navigate the information about our world, services and resources, we can direct you to what is beneficial and what is harmful. We know the world best because we live it. It is our language, our culture. We are the best resource you have!