SILVER SPRING, Md. — In a world that isn't all that friendly to the autism community, it seems that parents of children with autism and autistic adults would be natural allies in the movement for disability and autistic rights. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
All too often, self-advocates*—individuals with autism themselves—feel that parents of children with autism don't want to hear what they have to say. "There is a saying amongst developmentally disabled activists," writes one such activist in a recent blog post. "It goes like this: 'Some parents just want disabled children to speak and disabled adults to shut up.'"
These are harsh words, but they are at the heart of a conflict that recently came to a head over this very issue: When it comes to the developmental disability rights movement, who should be leading the way?