I'm going to be blunt. To keep this short and sweet.
My son with autism is not in competition with yours. Nor is he competing with his neurotypical peers. Nor is he competing with others on the autism spectrum. He is doing the best he can to live and thrive with a neurological disorder that makes life confusing and difficult at times. It is part of who he is. It's the only life he knows and he doesn't care if he's "as autistic" as someone else, or "more compulsive" than another child. The only competition he's concerned with right now is winning a computer at our library's summer reading program.
I am not in competition with you or any other parent I know. I don't envy you your 'typical' child. I don't feel we've won one for Team Autism when my son knows a science fact yours doesn't. I don't feel we've forfeited to The Neurotypicals when my son has to leave a store due to sensory overload. It makes me happy when you accept and include my son. It makes me disappointed when you avoid him (and me) because you're not sure what to say. I try to surround myself with people who support me without passing judgment or trying to compete. Because that's the kind of friend I want, that's the kind of friend I strive to be.
We're human. We make mistakes. We do and say things we didn't mean or maybe they just came out wrong. We dwell. We want to win. I get it.
But hear this:
Autism is not a competition. There is no us versus them. We are all in this together. Autism can be an incredible thing. But some days, it can also kick our butts. Our children are gifted, but autism itself is not a gift. It's the toughest, most rewarding job you'll never get through if you don't have support and love from people who believe in you.
And the clincher?
There is no winner.
Sorry guys, but there aren't blue ribbons and gold trophies waiting. Because it was never a competition. There is no Us vs. Them. ASD vs. NT. Organic vs. Monsanto. ABA vs. Floor-Time. PECS vs. AAC. None of it really matters. What matters is support. What matters is listening. What matters is bravery and advocacy. What matters is doing what is best for the child you have. What matters is love. Loving your child. Loving yourself. Loving your community. Loving all of them enough to say no more competition. No more negativity, no matter who it's directed toward.
We're all in this together. No more mockery, bashing, or negativity toward any group of people. I cringe when I see people ask for "autism acceptance," yet throw dirt at "NTs" or families with "typical" children. And I ask you please, no more. Just love from me. Just love for my spectrum boy. Just love for yours, boy, girl, spectrum, or not. Just love for the kids who don't quite know what to say when my son stims. Just love for the moms who don't know what to say about their kid not knowing what to say. Just love for the 'typical' kids who made MVP and went to summer camp. Just love for the moms who are rightfully proud of their accomplishments. Just love for the mom who cries at night because her child might never live alone. Just love for the one struggling to get hers through the store. Just love for the moments and the life we have, not the one we see someone else living. Just love for progress, no matter how small. Just love.