I Am Not An Autism Mum

I recently saw a post where someone congratulated a woman for using Identity First Language in relation to herself and autism. The woman in question, however, is not autistic. And the language she was using was “Autism Mum”.

“Autism Mum” (or the American version “Autism Mom”) will always make me bristle. It is co-opting of their child’s identity. Autism seems to be one of the few places this happens. You don’t see blonde mothers of redheads calling themselves a “Redhead Mum”. Or straight mothers of bisexuals calling themselves “Bisexual Mums”. Or white mothers of mixed-race children calling themselves “Mixed Race Mums”. These are just examples off the top of my head, but you all know what I mean. I have come across “Special Needs Mums” but even they are rarer than Autism Mums.

If you are the mother of an autistic person, then you are a “mum of an autistic”. Anything else is akin to cultural appropriation. And is certainly not what we mean by asking you to use Identity First Language. We are talking about your child’s identity, not yours.

And anyway, the appropriate word to use is Autistic not Autism. Otherwise it’s just bad grammar. Which is why I’m an Autistic Mum, because I’m autistic and a mum. Or I could go further and say I’m an Autistic mum of Autistic kids. But I’m not an Autism Mum. And when I see anyone describe themselves that way (or Autism Dad/Parent/Grandparent/Sibling etc) then it’s just a huge red flag for me.

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