I ain’t no superhero, and as far as I am concerned no parent is!
Maybe this sounds a bit counter to the culture of the Autism parent community, but I have to say it, because there is this thing, that doesn’t really make sense, that autism parents are super parents.
You know what. It’s a little bit bullshit.
Let me be clear that I am not saying that parenting is easy, that parenting any child is easy, that parenting an autistic child does not have it’s challenges. Well parenting any child has its challenges. But none of this makes a parent a superhero, or a super parent, or better than any other parent, or any other so-called class of parent.
It really is just a little bit bullshit.
Now I’m an Autistic dad.
I have a failed marriage.
I have a second marriage.
I have a 21 year old Âûtistic daughter with significant needs, she has significant brain physiology issues including no Corpus Callosum.
I have an 18 year old Neurotypical daughter.
I have a 9 year old Âûtistic daughter.
My former wife has abandoned my two older girls for her new partner.
So as you can see I have my challenges when it comes to family life. But wait there’s more.
My 21 year old was sexually abused by her mothers boyfriend.
In addition to her already challenging situation she deals with seizures and a large cocktail of medication to keep this in check.
So yes, I have a pretty full on, challenging, eventful family life.
But you know what I am not in any way a super hero, a super parent a super anything. To say anything different or to act like anything different is just a little bit bullshit.
I’m just a dad doing my best to be a dad to my girls, amidst the challenges and the triumphs. That’s all. And I challenge the idea that there really is anything different to that. Sure there is less than that, people that opt out of their parenting responsibilities. But that’s not what I am on about here. I am on about people that are putting their best forward in parenting their children.
There is no supermoms, superdads, there just isn’t.
Being an Autism parent (which is a stupid label anyway) It’s a parent of an autistic child, that’s what it is. This is not any more special than any other type of parent. Is it really reasonable to claim it is somehow better than:
A parent of a paraplegic?
A parent of a Cystic Fibrosis child?
A parent of a child who has cerebral palsy?
A parent of a plain old neurotypical child? (who of course is not plain or typical at all).
I’ve got to say, of course it isn’t. To claim it is really is just a little bit bullshit.
Today I visited a Facebook group I like to refer to as Hell Group. There’s a reason for that, and that is the absolute pervasiveness of the super parent syndrome. It is so pervasive that Autistic adults are regularly silenced and bullied by the self proclaimed Autism-Moms. It is very common to see posts about vaccine injury and associated tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist evangelically pushed.
It really is an experience that is hard to describe just how surreal and terrible it is. Today interacted with a post proclaiming that the Amish have a low rate of autism, and a low rate of vaccination so it must be vaccines causing autism. The thread became long, loud, and vitriolic quite quickly. Conspiracy theorist blogs were posted as evidence, rational analysis was treated with contempt and anecdote was proclaimed as undeniable evidence.
Another post was that of a parent, an autism mom, who in getting her son ready for school decided to ensure that the teacher was under no misconception about her child being autistic shaved the word autism and a puzzle piece into his hair. I was dumbfounded by this, as I would have thought most people would. However on last look this particular image had over 250 comments, most in support of this action, and over 1650 likes. I am just a little bit gobsmacked by this, that any parent actually could consider this a good thing to do and that so many would support and encourage it. It’s just quite unbelievable.
A third post, which I chose not to interact with was a photo of a child naked standing on the sink. It was slightly pixelated, but it was absolutely clear what the picture was. It again was another terrible thing. The post was there apparently to request support in working out how to stop the child climbing on the sink. Okay, fair enough, but why the picture it’s totally unnecessary.
What’s all this got to do with the superhero thing. Well it seems to me, that this whole superhero motif, is a factor in somehow giving tacit permission that it be okay to post these terrible types of pictures, to totally expose your children on the internet. To reveal everything about them for the whole world to see.
When challenged about this oversharing a typical response is that it is awareness raising, that it is to help others or similar reasoning.
Again, it’s a little bit bullshit. Actually it’s a lot bullshit.
In the end I am not a super parent. And neither is anyone else. We are all just humans, doing our best, journeying through the challenges doing our best to make sense of them. Enjoying and celebrating the triumphs and hoping there will be many more of those triumphs.
Superparents? No bloody way. Just parents. That’s it just parents. Well not just parents, just parents who damn well love their kids to bits and doing the darn well best they can.
So please remember. Super parents.
It’s just a little bit bullshit! Or, perhaps a bloody lot bullshit!