Abstract: Autistic Adult and Non-Autistic Parent Advocates: Bridging the Divide

ROTTIER, H., & GERNSBACHER, M. A. (2007). Autistic adult and non-autistic parent advocates: Bridging the divide. In A.C. Carey, J. M., Ostrove, & T. Fannon (Eds.) Disability alliances and allies (Research in social science and disability, Vol. 12, pp. 155-166). Emerald Publishing Limited.https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-354720200000012011

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Purpose: Due to the developmental nature of autism, which is often diagnosed in preschool or elementary school-aged children, non-autistic parents of autistic children typically play a prominent role in autism advocacy. However, as autistic children become adults and adult diagnoses of autism continue to rise, autistic adults have played a more prominent role in advocacy. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the histories of adult and non-autistic parent advocacy in the United States and to examine the points of divergence and convergence. Approach: Because of their different perspectives and experiences, advocacy by autistic adults and non-autistic parents can have distinctive goals and conflicting priorities. Therefore, the approach we take in the current chapter is a collaboration between an autistic adult and a non-autistic parent, both of whom are research scholars. Findings: The authors explore the divergence of goals and discourse between autistic self-advocates and nonautistic parent advocates and offer three principles for building future alliances to bridge the divide between autistic adults and nonautistic parents. Implications: The chapter ends with optimism that US national priorities can bridge previous gulfs, creating space for autistic adult and non-autistic parent advocates to work together in establishing policies and practices that improve life for autistic people and their families and communities.