Be very careful! You just do not know what you might unleash.
I remember the words of my mother, and just about every other maternal influence in my childhood. Don’t scratch that itch you will only make it worse. Generally, this applied after being outside without protection from mosquitoes, or enjoying the sensation of rolling around in the long grass, or rolling down a nice grass hill. The cost of such joy was often irritating itches which were incredibly annoying.
I think this advice can often apply in regard to personal relationships and interpersonal interactions. Often we scratch an itch of irritation and everything can very quickly go from manageable or tolerable to anger and seething animosity.
I see this time and again in Facebook groups and threads that are populated by people with similar interests but different experiences of them. A common example I experience is the disconnect that often occurs in groups that have a large population of autism parents and a smaller population of autistic adults. To be fair of course, this may be experienced in the reverse by parents where the numbers are stacked the other way.
What I see and experience happening often is that a parent will say something about their child that an autistic adult takes issue with, or sees as a negative representation. Autistic adult attempts to set straight the parent, generally with the best intentions of clarifying or helping the parent to understand.
Oftentimes this is taken as an aggressive and anti-parent action. It often is not. Autistics do tend to be direct and factual and are often interpreted as being unkind, antagonistic and aggressive. It is my experience that this is largely not the case. Unfortunately, the dialogue quickly descends to shouting. The scratching of the itch results in increased irritation.
It must go without saying that the vast majority of autism parents want nothing more than to do the very best for their children. To see them grow to be happy and fulfilled people. It also goes without saying that the same is true for autistic adults, they want to be that themselves and they want that for the children of all the parents they interact with.
It’s not meant to be a fight.
Unfortunately, it’s really hard to make that mutual caring message come through in this autism community. Unfortunately, there is so much baggage out there that both parents of autistic kids and autistics themselves default to defend and conquer mode.
I am fairly certain that in reality neither group within the autism community really want it to be this way.
But the baggage….
In a group of Autistic adults on Facebook yesterday a post inviting people to have a rant was made. Essentially the idea was to tell whatever it is that you need to tell to F*#$ Off just go for it.
I am sure you can imagine some of the things that were cited. There were, of course, a number of recurring themes. Those predominant themes included:
Being considered abnornal
Negative talk about behaviours like Stimming
Lack of Empathy
Silenced or sidelined due to being too high functioning
I wonder if all this baggage is an insurmountable obstacle. I sincerely hope that it isn’t. I really do. But I truly do wonder. It seems to be that many adult autistics are automatically in defense mode expecting some of these issues to be raised in order to silence or discount the point you are making.
As autistics we often experience the feeling of being other or outsiders, surely we must seek to not do exactly that to those we want to advocate with and for.
Yet, today I read a post from a prominent autistic advocate that discounted her points of view and arguments on the basis of, basically, not trying hard enough to be “normal”, which in reality was code for to not be autistic. You can read the post here.
If we scratch that itch it may be more irritated. But perhaps in the case of advocacy scratch it we must. Perhaps we just need to scratch it with some more care and consideration.