My local library has a big collection of autism books and I’m slowly working my way through them. I just finished reading one about how parents can help their autistic teen transition into adulthood. It was a fairly thick book, packed with information on friendship, dating, high school, college, work and living independently. Curiously, the only mention of marriage and parenting was a few pages acknowledging that some autistic people get married and even have children (who, the book suggested, would have very difficult lives, as they were more likely to be autistic themselves, on top of having an autistic parent). It concluded with a sentence lamenting how little we know about married autistic people because the topic just hasn’t been the subject of enough studies. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or throw the book across the room.
But I kept reading because the transition to adulthood is important and I’m always looking for good books to add to my resources page.
There was a chapter on “living situations” near the end of the book. As I read through all of the possible living situations that the authors suggested an autistic person might find themselves in, I noticed a glaring omission. There was information about living with a parent or a caregiver, living in a group home or facility, living with a roommate or living alone. But there was no mention that an autistic teen might grow up to live with a partner or spouse, let alone with children of their own. And that got me thinking about why autistic parents are so often invisible.
There seems to be a tacit assumption that if we can manage to find ourselves a partner or spouse and have children, we’re just “not autistic enough” to need any sort of support services. This month’s article at Autism Women’s Network, Motherhood: Autistic Parenting and Supports That Make a Difference, rejects that notion and looks at some of the supports that can make a difference in the lives of autistic parents, especially moms on the spectrum.