Autism & Families
Every family is different. Some of us are lucky and have supportive and understanding families. Some of us are less fortunate and have families that are the site of mistreatment. Some Families are a mixture.
Being Autistic can complicate relationships with your family we want to discuss how this happens and ways to manage it
If your family is harming you or making you feel unhappy you may have to treat them like any other toxic entity:
Limit contact to the absolute minimum.
Seek support elsewhere
Telling family about a diagnosis can be difficult. You may have to deal with stereotypes and fears. People report:
• Shame and/or Fear
• Being Doubted
• Defensivness and/or
Autism being seen as a failure of parenting
It can help if:
• You involve them in the diagnostic process early on.
• You confront myths about Autism ahed of time.
• You pick your moment – making sure it is a quiet, free time to talk and explain that it is important to you.
It can take a long time for family members to get used to the idea of you being Autistic. It may be a good idea to give them some space while they come to terms with it.
Give yourself the time and space you need, too.
Ironically, Family can be the closest to us but require us to mask the most. Family time can be exhausting.
• Set Limits (Time, Space, Amount of people)
• Ask to know exactly what the plans are (no surprises)
• Have your comfort objects to hand (e.g.headphones)
The things that can be difficult about being autistic are also the things that make you talented and unique.
Toxic family members can try to force us into roles- such as “scapegoat” or “blacksheep”. This sees us blamed for being different or “difficult”.
Even if family members work in care services they can still have bigoted opinions about autism- neurotypicals can often “compartmentalise” knowledge.
Transactional Analysis can help us understand and avoid patterns of adversaerial behaviour in families.
Mediation services can help resolve longer term conflicts.
With toxic families distance may simply be the better option.
A healthy family is one that makes you feel good about your differences.