ANI-L: Special Information About the Parents' Auxiliary


ANY LIST MEMBER, WHETHER AUTISTIC PERSON, COUSIN, FAMILY MEMBER, FRIEND, OR PROFESSIONAL, MAY POST IN ANY SECTION OF THE LIST. Non-autistic members are asked to wait and observe for at least a week after joining before posting in the "AC" section, in order to get a feel for the style of discussion there. WHICH TOPIC YOU SHOULD POST A PARTICULAR MESSAGE IN DEPENDS ON THE CONTENT OF WHAT YOU ARE POSTING, NOT ON WHO YOU ARE.

The PA: topic of the list is a Parents' Auxiliary section that is geared for the interests of family members and friends of autistics and cousins, while at the same time upholding the principles of ANI. Autistics and cousins are welcome to participate, with the understanding that this is a section for those who want to discuss the joys and challenges of having an autistic person in their lives. (See the "Information about topics" message for an explanation of the topics.)

This is the section where it is appropriate to discuss parenting issues. Discussion of parenting issues is expected to uphold principles of Autism Network International (e.g., helping people learn to navigate rather than making them "less autistic"). Discussion aimed at "curing" autism still demeans and devalues the lives of your hosts--the autistic people and cousins on this list--as well as the lives of your children or other family members. This sort of discussion is not appropriate in any section of ANI-L.

Subject matter and communication style in the Parents' Auxiliary are primarily determined by what family members and friends are interested in. It is natural that this may include a desire by parents to ask for input from autistics and cousins, in order to help them understand their children. While understandable, this must be approached with extreme caution in order to keep ANI-L a comfortable place for ACs to connect with each other. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES ABOUT THE SECTIONS OF ANI-L!

The primary purpose of ANI-L as a whole is to provide a place for autistic people and cousins to connect with each other and with our friends, and to be appreciated for ourselves, by people who value us as the individuals that we are. We are not here for the benefit of parents. We are not here to provide educational experiences, to answer questions, to give advice, to be analyzed and studied. Being bombarded with requests to share our personal experiences, or to problem-solve about other people's family members, reduces us to the status of tools, not people.

Some of us may be willing to discuss your children with you, if we are addressed with respect for our dignity and our autonomy rather than being exploited as self-narrating zoo exhibits. For others of us, this list is the only place where we can feel free to be just ourselves, in the company of other people who understand and appreciate us; and any request to direct our energies toward parent-oriented concerns, no matter how politely and respectfully addressed, diminishes our sense of being allowed to "simply be." Therefore, PARENTS SHOULD NOT TRY TO ENGAGE ACS IN DISCUSSIONS OF PARENT ISSUES UNLESS THE ACS HAVE INDICATED THAT THEY ARE WILLING TO PARTICIPATE IN SUCH DISCUSSIONS!

The safest indicator that an AC is willing to discuss parent issues is that he or she voluntarily participates in the Parents' Auxiliary. ACs posting in the Parents' Auxiliary section, or responding to other people's posts there, should be aware that they may be treated as resources and asked questions aimed at helping parents with their own children, rather than at understanding the AC who is being questioned. ACs who are not comfortable with that type of interaction are advised to avoid posting in the Parents' Auxiliary section.

ACs who post only in the "AC-oriented" sections, and not in the Parents' Auxiliary, are probably indicating that they are not interested in discussing parent issues. This choice must be respected.

Even ACs who participate in all sections may share things in the other sections that they are not comfortable discussing in the context of a parent-oriented discussion in the Parents' Auxiliary. ACs posting in the AC:, DR:, and VP: sections are there to share information and experiences with friends (whether the friends are autistic or not), and not to be resources for other people's purposes. Unless an autistic person or cousin has posted something IN THE PARENTS' AUXILIARY, it should not be assumed that the person is interested in discussing that issue in the Parents' Auxiliary. Parents may ask if the person is willing to discuss the issue there, but they must be prepared to accept "No" as an answer.



  1. Parents may find that they gain insight and understanding of their children by reading and participating in discussions between ACs in the non-PA sections. This is fine.

  2. Some autistics and cousins may voluntarily elect to post in the Parents' Auxiliary section and respond to concerns of parents. This is also fine.

  3. Parents may see posts by ACs IN THE PARENTS' AUXILIARY SECTION and wish to ask the authors of the posts specific questions, or ask for insight about their children. This is fine, provided the parents respect the ACs' right to elect not to answer.

  4. Parents may see posts by ACs IN THE AC-ORIENTED SECTIONS and wish to ask the authors of the posts specific questions, or ask for insight about their children. These kinds of questions MAY NOT be posted in the AC-oriented sections! The AC: section is for ACs to engage in personal sharing, not to be on display for others. The DR: section is for ACs to discuss and learn about political and advocacy issues, and to find out about possible opportunities to participate in activism activities if and as they are ready, not to be pressured to respond to others' individual problems. The VP: section is for high- volume AC-style fun and partying.
If you see a post in one of the AC-oriented sections and wish to request suggestions about how the post may relate to your own child, you may post a response IN THE PARENTS' AUXILIARY section. (See the "Information about topics" message for information about how to change sections.) You may refer to or summarize the post from the other section, but do NOT re-post the text of the message in your response. If the author of the message had wanted it to appear in the Parents' Auxiliary, he or she would have posted it in the Parents' Auxiliary in the first place.

If the person whose post you're responding to reads the Parents' Auxiliary, he or she may choose to reply to your response. If the person does not read the Parents' Auxiliary, or if he or she reads the Parents' Auxiliary but does not wish to discuss this particular topic there, he or she will not respond. A person's right to not respond must be respected: Do not nag!

Even if the AC who wrote the original post does not respond, other ACs, or other parents whose children have similar issues, may respond with helpful information. Any ensuing discussion should focus on the general issues raised in the post and its responses, and on specific personal concerns of the participants in the discussion. There should not be any speculation, analysis, or interpretation of the personal experience of the person who wrote the original post in the AC-oriented section, unless that person is also participating in the discussion in the Parents' Auxiliary. ACs need to be able to discuss personal experiences in the AC-oriented sections without their messages being dissected in the Parents' Auxiliary.

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