Earlier in the year many people told me to listen to iPM on Radio 4 saying it was moving and parents are giving "the other side" of the autism story.
I read the article on the BBC website and started to listen to the iPM programme. What was being discussed seemed to me to be a "straw man" type argument, where what was being argued against had never seriously been proposed in the first place.
So the parents were saying they felt oppressed by a relentlessly positive narrative about autism which did not fit their experience. However I think that this solely positive narrative is a reaction to the previous overwhelmingly negative narrative about autism (still prevalent in some circles a website calling itself Autism Independent UK defines autism as "the most severe of the developmental disabilities"). It is a classic pendulum swing situation and we need to recognise this and realise that the truth is somewhere between these extremes - autism is not one thing, nor does it go along a line from high to low functioning. To show the multidimensionality of autism I developed a constellation model (crafted by an autistic woodworker) to demonstrate visually how autistic peole are outliers in all directions.
It is quite frequent that parents have more than one autistic child. I would have thought this makes it clear this autism is genetic, so at least one of the parents is likely to be autistic. However myths and stigma about autism and/an autistic trait of tunnel vision often make such parents unable to consider they might also be autistic, with the result they propose that autism is totally a negative disorder, which has affected their children.
Autism is a natural part of human diversity which can confer both strengths and challenges. It is an atypicality that can be a gift or a disability. We should no more deny the difficult experience of parents who have autistic children with challenging behaviour than diregard the joy that autistic artists and scientists have given us.