The “bubble” argument : used by professionals in order to blame parents for parenting their autistic child well.
“You have created too much of a bubble for your child.”
By creating a safe and autistic friendly home space (professionals argue that) your autistic child will be ill prepared for life in the “real world”. The “real world” will therefore cause momentous amounts of distress so that your child will never learn how to cope outside of the home, or outside of your care.
Before I begin dismantling this ableist nonsense, I think it’s firstly important to highlight how the entire concept is presented in metaphor. This is how autism professionals speak to me (an autistic woman) and how they deliver information to autistic families – ensconced within indirect and unnecessary flounce that is often impossible for an autistic mind to decipher.
For the sake of clarity, MY understanding of what professionals mean when they tell you that you are creating a bubble for your child (ignore visual image of child trapped inside a giant bubble), is that you are creating a good environment which meets the specific needs of your child.
What I think professionals THEMSELVES mean by this, is that parents who create such a “bubble” are deliberately shielding their child from outside influence – in much the same way as a cult operates – seeking to influence their child into rejecting “normality” and thus inflicting emotional harm.
Maybe their position is more nuanced than I have presented here, but if communication is only sent via metaphor then there is no guarantee that the two parties will ever reach an understanding.
The first issue I have with this “bubble” argument is the implicit emphasis placed upon needing to acclimatise to the “real world”. Why? Why is the aspiration to be able to blend in effortlessly within a sometimes, intolerable, neurotypical world? Is an autistic experience of the world not “normal” or “real”? – it seems pretty real to me.
The whole argument is positioned from the perspective of an abled person with no lived experience of how inaccessible the “outside” world can very often be.
And so my second point is around professional non-understanding of the need for respite from the demands of the “outside” world; navigating complex verbal communication, absorbing endless streams of multiple information input, processing continual sensory bombardment. We need our houses bto be our safe havens in order to calm and cleanse ourselves from the intolerable. Without our autistically accessible, private spaces we are unable to fully relax and prepare ourselves for the next venture “outside”. The long term implication of never being able to fully recuperate from accessing “normal” is exhaustion and mental health crisis.
So my argument – as an autistic woman and parent to two autistic children – is that our “bubble” is not there to separate us from “reality” but is rather, a necessary aid to our participation.
Unfortunately, the “bubble argument” will continue to circulate for as long as there are funding shortages within autistic (S.E.N) provision. Sourcing necessary adaptations – both within the home, and education – is expensive. The “bubble argument” provides the perfect justification NOT to make such provision.