Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or may be thought to be. Reality is value-neutral, it does not cast judgment on the rightness or wrongness of something. So when we talk about "reality", we are talking about what things are rather than what we would want them to be.
I believe that it is very important to deal with the reality of a situation rather than some abstract notion of what could or should be. It is crucial to fully grasp the idea of what something is before you move onto the why it is like it is or what it should be like.
You may not like what reality is and you are always free to try and change it. But to do that you have to understand what exactly it is you are dealing with and what steps are required to change it. The worst possible thing you can do when trying to change reality is to just pretend it is something other than it is. When you do that you not only deny reality but also lose your ability to change it.
I like to call pretending that reality is something other than it is denialism. Denialism is a problem in the autism world. There are many "autism advocates" who, for whatever reason, seem to feel the need to pretend that autism is something other than it is or pretend that life with autism is something other than it is.
Consider this recent post by a semi-retired neurodiversity blogger. He is clearly very proud of his son and I don't blame him. Every parent has the right (and the duty) to take pride in their children's accomplishments. If that were my child I would be proud too.
But the problem is this gentleman has basically indoctrinated his son with a false reality about autism. He denies doing so, of course, but no nine year old (with or without autism) has the mental capacity to grasp what exactly autism is or deal with the realities of the difficulties that autism can bring. Hell, for that matter, most adults don't have the mental capacity to really understand autism either. My experience has taught me that is very difficult for anyone to understand the reality of autism unless you live it or it impacts your daily life. That goes double for the more severe forms of autism (and other major disabilities).
So while this gentleman is quite proud of his son, my older daughters just turned six years old and still don't have the communication skills to express basic concepts. His "autism" reality is that his nine year old son questions the medical model of autism while mine is that my six year olds can barely express their basic needs.
As an example, just this past week Twin B developed a double ear infection. Those of you who have had ear infections before know that they can be uncomfortable at best to downright painful at worst. Yet, because of her autism, Twin B lacks the communication skills to express that her ears hurt. She suffered in silence, unable to tell us that she was in pain. The only reason that we knew about the infections is that she happened to have a doctors appointment and they checked her ears.
But, if this blogger is to be believed, the reality of "autism" is that autism is just a difference that needs acceptance. It is somehow more important to "take down" discrimination and let children like mine know they are loved and accepted for who they are than it is to take down a disorder that causes great hardship for my children. These words ring hollow in the face of my daughter being in pain and prevented from seeking help for her pain.
And this is just a trivial example.
The reality of autism for my children - and I suspect the majority of children with autism - is that it is not a quest for acceptance. It is a struggle to acquire enough skills to be able to survive in the world. Don't get me wrong, I want my children to know they are loved and accepted but I get the distinct impression that they would also love to be able to talk.
This rejection of a fundamental autism reality is the core problem with the neurodiversity movement and why I think of it as a sort of autism apartheid. This movement effectively segregates the autism world into the very high functioning minority and rest - and then tries to focus the entire conversation on the minority while ignoring the needs of the majority. Sure, you will hear the occasional lip service to the less fortunate ones but most of the conversation will be needs and wants of the "there's nothing wrong with autism" minority.
The majority of children with autism need real help just as much or more than they need acceptance. They need the debilitating symptoms of their autism to be eradicated.
Another recent example of denialism comes from this recent exchange of posts between Harold Doherty and Astrid. Harold is basically saying that the reality of severe autism is that people with severe autism are more vulnerable to abuse. He is saying this to raise awareness of the problem so that it can be prevented.
To me, these statements are a complete no-brainer. Autism can and does make people easier targets for abuse, especially if the victims are unable to communicate that the abuse occurred.
Yet Astrid feels the need to defend the virtue of autism and misrepresents Harold's point to mean the disability causes the abuse. She takes exception with the idea that the disability has anything to do with the abuse. She calls it "abuse apologism".
I call her response denialism.
I am not suggesting that a disability "causes" or invites abuse. Abuse of any form for any reason is completely inexcusable and should not be tolerated. But to deny the reality that severe disabilities, such as some forms of autism, play a role in abuse is absurd and downright dangerous to the disabled.
The reality is that a disability makes a person more vulnerable to abuse. You either accept that reality and take steps to prevent it or you stick your head in the sand and pretend that the disability has nothing to do with it and thus ignore the danger.
I know that when it comes to my children I would rather face what can be the grim reality of autism and try it change it rather than pretending it is something that it isn't. My children need more than just acceptance and love - they need someone to take down their autism. And, as I have talked about before, they certainly need to be protected from a world that they do not understand and from people who will take advantage of them.