Episode 39: Combating Ableism at Home with Natasha Nelson
What is ableism? Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice in favor of able-bodied people and against people with disabilities and/or people who are perceived to be disabled. Ableism impacts more people than you could ever imagine, so it’s time to put the spotlight on why we should be combatting it and how we can go about doing that.
Natasha Nelson is a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, veteran, military spouse, and mother to two autistic Black girls. Natasha’s been practicing positive parenting for three years and blogging her entire experience through her blog, Supernova Momma. She helps Black and Neurodiverse parents break generational curses from systemic racism and ableism while raising children in a mutually loving, empathetic, and respectful environment using her four-prong NEED system: Network, Empathize, Educate, and Demonstrate.
Listen in to this episode of Parenting Decolonized as Natasha sheds light on what it’s like to be autistic, to parent autistic children, and to combat ableism both at home and at school.
Natasha herself is autistic and was diagnosed as an adult, so she has a fascinating perspective of parenthood and ableism.
To Natasha, her kids, and many other autistic people, autism isn’t something you have, it’s a part of you. It’s not a disease, it’s not curable, and it’s not contagious. It’s formed in the womb, neurologically, and it’s been around forever. Therefore, when talking about autism, it’s appropriate to address them as autistic people and not as people who have autism. Although, everyone is different and has different preferences, so take that into consideration when speaking to and about autistic people. Ask what they prefer to be called, just to be sure.
Do you suspect that your child is autistic or have you just found out that your child is autistic?
Let’s acknowledge the mourning period that may come along with that diagnosis. It’s not a bad thing to feel a sense of grief, guilt, or sadness when it comes to your child’s future or to feel that life is going to be even harder because of this. Feel those feelings. Do not shame yourself or others for feeling those feelings because those feelings come from a sense of uncertainty and not understanding the reality of autism.
There’s power in doing research and exploring the world of autism. Find out what communities you can engage with, programs or schools you can enroll your child in, supportive therapies you can participate in, and other resources that will support you and your family. If you’re an autistic adult, seek out other autistic adults to connect with. Getting a diverse range of ideas of what life is like for autistic people is very helpful.
Observe your child and document what triggers them and what doesn’t. Everyone is different when it comes to triggers so if you have multiple autistic children, it’s important to observe them as individuals.
Autistic people aren’t broken, they’re just wired differently. They have different needs and process information differently. So, we must not ask “what’s wrong with this person?” and instead ask “how can we accommodate them?” If you’re in a classroom or any other place, and someone is not willing to make an accommodation for your child, that is an unsafe place that’s likely going to force them to mask, produce behavioral issues, and more.
What is masking?
Natasha relates masking to code-switching, except masking is to the extreme and it’s with something that is innately you. Masking is when you hide the aspects of yourself that are not neurotypical in order to fit in, not be judged or shamed, or not to make neurotypical people feel uncomfortable. Black people and women are already socialized to mask, so you can see how difficult it can be for young neurodiverse Black girls to step into a world that doesn’t understand and accept them as they are.
We must advocate for autistic children, especially in school because that’s where a large part of their development takes place. Join the PTA, go to those meetings, and use your voice to influence the decisions the school makes. Knowing your child’s teachers and administrators will benefit your child’s educational experience. Interview those educators! If you don’t have a choice when it comes to schools, find out if your state offers financial support or “scholarships” for enrolling your child into a different, more supportive school.
For those of you getting a 504 plan or IEP, make sure your child’s triggers are noted in that plan along with solutions for those triggers.
As we learn more about ourselves and our children, we’re returning to what was stolen from us. Let’s embrace the power of community, education, neurodiversity, and radical acceptance!
Ready to start COMBATTING ABLEISM? Listen in to this powerful discussion to learn more and be sure to check out Natasha’s positive discipline workshops and courses.
About Natasha Nelson:
Natasha is a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, veteran, military spouse, and mother to two autistic Black girls. Natasha has over seven years of exemplary leadership in the United States Army and has practiced positive parenting for three years. She has blogged her entire experiences with motherhood and was featured on Oprah Magazine, Black Parent Magazine, and NBC Atlanta 11Alive. Her blog features traditional child-rearing, motherhood balance, positive parenting, and autism acceptance. Natasha created Supernova Momma to help Black and Neurodiverse parents break generational curses from systemic racism and ableism and raise children in a mutually loving, empathetic, and respectful environment using her four-prong NEED system: Network, Empathize, Educate, and Demonstrate. Natasha offers Positive Discipline workshops and classes, One-on-One Parent Consultations, and public speaking. She is also the creator of “The Cool Calming Corner”, a Time-In printable poster set that features Black and/or multicultural children of different shades and hairstyles, and teaches them emotional intelligence and coping strategies through a love of hip hop.
To connect further with Natasha:
Visit her website: www.supernovamomma.com
Follow her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/supernova_momma
Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/supernovamomma
The Intro to Positive Discipline Workshop: www.supernovamomma.com/the-intro
Try a Little Tenderness Workshop: www.supernovamomma.com/positive-discipline-workshop/try-a-little-tenderness
Take Me As I Am Workshop: www.supernovamomma.com/take-me-as-i-am