"Hi brother Mustafa we are brothers . I am here...."
I read that quote, part of an emailed message to my son, and did not notice for a good while that I was crying. I sat silently thinking, "Mu will want to frame this" then the tears impaired my vision. The respect, the understanding, the extension of the hand of friendship; it just overwhelmed us. I did not expect it. Help, even moral support, is not something we ever expect.
Four years ago, when I decided to homeschool Mustafa and search for as many adults like him as I could in an attempt to understand him and help him, I didn't foresee that such a young autistic person would think or worry about what was happening to my son. We were still being told that autistics and empathy didn't mix. We were assured other autistics wouldn't understand what my son was going through enough to type those words. I didn't realize how many autistics communicated the way my son is learning to communicate. I just wasn't given any expectation that I could even speak to autistic adults directly or that they would care enough about what might happen to my son to answer.
Mu has not been himself. The assessments have saddening him. The way they spoke of him while he was right there, no matter what we did to avert, warn, and scold them or remove him from their voices, he heard it. Hearing the litany of his presumed deficiencies and suffering the humiliation but not being able to defend against the ableism were breaking him down. The dislike of him as a person and a student who cannot simply be taught on a canned curriculum with half-hearted effort was apparent and it was becoming unbearable. We tried to help him weather this privately. Then suddenly, Henry wrote.
Henry understood everything Mu was going through. It made me realize autistic kids should be writing one another. This was how this great movement toward community began for autistics a generation ago. Maybe it is time for an "autistic big brothers/big sisters" writing project now. Who better to let our older kids know it will be okay? They have gone through these terrible humiliating processes and survived to live another day.
No matter what hell I think I'm going through sitting alone in an adversarial environment with at least 7 other people all talking at the same time, sometimes gaslighting, sometimes skewing what was said, other times saving up parental sentences to serve their own purposes, Mu will always have it worse. He will be eternally underrated and forever measured by how compliant he is rather than his capacity to learn.
So I am wondering if all of the autistic adults and young adults out there can help Mustafa and the younger generation by starting a safe space and posting public letters to them. Build a kind of bulletin board for autistic kids to read letters of support, solidarity, and encouragement on all those topics that need someone just like them who cares. Let them know others went through it and there is a light at the end of of the avalanche of others presuming their incompetence.
That light is understanding and friendship from their brothers and sisters in neurology.
Long live the neurotribes