There are many voices trying to tell you what your child needs. This seems to increase exponentially if you have a child who is neurodivergent. Often you not only have family, friends and strangers weighing in but professionals too.
And they generally all speak from a particular paradigm. It is one of conformity and compliance. It is one of control. It is generally based off of the idea of a child who will be institutionalised and who will be required to compromise themselves for the convenience of mass indoctrination.
If you are planning to live a life free from compulsory education, you are not confined to it’s expectations. You are able to prioritise the child in front of you rather than society’s idea of who they should be. Your child has the space to figure out what best serves them specifically and consensually.
I really want it to be known explicitly; I do not share that perspective. I advocate for all children.
Though people use phrasing to suggest they are doing so for the benefit of their child, it doesn’t take too long for that to become discredited. If a person does not have an opportunity to decline, it is not a gift but an expectation. It is not an act of assistance but a requirement for such.
Parents are often acting with the best of intentions, I do acknowledge this. They want their child to align better with mainstream society so that they can increase their chances of success (and therefore happiness). But could it ever be considered success if it is at the expense of self? Could it really be considered success if it is not something that person actually wants for themselves?
Really contemplate: does conformity actually benefit your child? Does it benefit anyone personally? How have you felt when you were expected to conform?
But okay, what if it’s not about conformity, what if it is about health? Surely then a parent is justified in removing some autonomy and enacting some authority.
But what is health?
A person who finds their most regulated state of being in video games, is hurt by having their access restricted. A person who finds the act of bathing a sensory overload, is hurt by having that required of them. A person who is essentially told that who they are is not good enough and not worthy of making choices, is never going to be healthy no matter what they do or do not do.
And when there is a genuine conflict with health? Control could never be the answer because control itself compromises a person’s wellbeing.
Thankfully, there are always ways to work with a person that honours their autonomy. Together you can figure out the source of the reservations, you are able to provide clarifying information to assist in their ability to make informed choices, explore alternatives and most importantly; empathise. Empathy is how we acknowledge a person’s feelings are valid and important to us.
In reality, there are so many diverse ways to be healthy. There are more options than bathing or showering for maintaining hygiene. There are more options than tooth brushes for cleaning teeth. There are more options for movement than conventional ideas of exercise. There are more options for a worthwhile existence than the mainstream narrative.
When somebody talks about the necessity of structure or routine or perhaps “help” to make better choices for a person, they are infringing on aspects of that person’s ownership over their existence and their expression of such.
They are asking them to dilute their needs, wants, emotions and voice. They are asking them to dilute themselves.
And perhaps we should be asking not what we think somebody needs to be to better align with our or society’s ideals but what they deserve. How can we best support them to find their own inner framework and make the decisions that contribute to such?
I can’t wait for society to start asking how we can make the world more accessible to people instead of how we can make people more accessible to the world and offering the solution of requiring them to forgo their rights.
And yes, there are people in the world who benefit from routine, of course. But this can develop organically and from that own individuals motivations. If it is externally derived and forced, it is demoralising.
Because the reality is that if you are saying a person needs you to make decisions for them, you’re also saying that they are less deserving of their humanity. And that just could never be accurate.