Autism-proofing isn’t offensive
Today, I’m angry. I usually do my best to be soft with my wording, even when writing about things that make my blood boil. But today, I won’t. Today, I‘m writing to you about the constant fears I live with about preventing the accidental death of my severely autistic child.
A few months ago, I posted a reel with tips on how to “autism-proof” a house. Tips included things like getting a plexiglass half-wall and extra locks on doors/cabinets. I‘ve since gotten dozens of comments on why I’m a horrible person because my terminology is “disgusting” and “ableist”.
I’m angry because:
1. It’s trivial. Those comments come from autistic people who have the privilege of getting offended by my choice of words and voicing their concerns on social media. They’re once again focused on a trivial “issue” rather than the fact that autistic children are dying.
2. There’s no winning. Charlie is almost 10. If I had used the term “baby-proofing”, I would have been accused of infantilizing him. It’s not child-proofing either because most neurotypical 10-year-old children understand basic danger like the fact that jumping off a 12 feet balcony is dangerous.
3. They’re generalizing. If you read the comments, you’ll see “I’m autistic and we’re not stupid, we understand danger.” It angers me because it is self-centered and shows that those autistic people who scream the loudest on social media don’t understand autistic people on the severe side of the spectrum. They will tell you severe autism isn’t real anyway.
4. It’s a dangerous narrative.
The leading cause of death for autistic people are accidental deaths by injury and drowning. Autism-proofing can save lives. If self-diagnosed autistics and autistic adults with low support needs spent less time attacking people for their use of “wrong” terminology and more time trying to understand that autism is a spectrum, maybe we’d save lives. Now, excuse me, I’m gonna go back to autism-proofing my house so my child doesn’t accidentally suffocate on the cotton rounds I didn’t think I needed to lock away.
Ironically, our ABA Center called CPS on us after Charlie, our son with severe autism, mouthed dog treats and melatonin gummies… It was a huge betrayal. Thankfully, nothing came out of it and CPS was impressed with the safety measures we took to keep Charlie safe. Who would think to lock dog treats away? Well, me now…