A few days ago, I scrolled through my TikTok feed, searching for videos to include in the “My Autistic Life” collection of this website. I settled on a two part series recounting what I call “The Chicken Nugget Story.” It’s a story about a time when I enforced a too stringent demand on my neurodivergent son, which resulted in a meltdown during an extended family mealtime. I cringe in recollection of the events as they transpired, and when I reviewed the videos to make closed captions, fresh insight revealed itself.
I too long wobbled along the tight rope between the will of my parents (which, let’s face it, is really very neuro-normative in nature) and my natural instincts. Before having children, the only victim of my deference was myself. Now, however, the stakes are higher. When faced with a choice to honor the will of my parents versus my own, I’ve historically chosen their will. As a parent, the choice to honor my will extends to my children. In other words, my will is to offer my children grace and mercy–to love them without condition. In contrast, the will of my parents is to have grandchildren that behave like little angels, to have interactions with their child (me) and grandchildren without opposition. Yet when a child is neurodivergent, behaviors often erupt, which closely resemble defiance or rebellion. When alone with my children, I mollify these behaviors through empathic response, but when my parents are around, I feel external pressure to hide these behaviors, or quash them, for the sake of my parents’ comfort. As you can see, the result is betrayal; first, of myself; next, of my kids.
Below you will find my “Embracing Neurodivergence” collection, wherein you will see the account of “The Chicken Nugget Story,” followed by my present day reflections in response.
While I procrastinated confronting my parents’ abusive tendencies for much too long, I am grateful I did it this year. It hurts to detach, but it has not only facilitated my psychological growth, but it’s also empowered me to parent with conviction, with clarified personal ethics.
Please do continue the conversation with me in the space for comments below the gallery.