Well what did you sign up for?
Following on somewhat from yesterdays post There’s this thing, I came across a petition today on Change.org, as petitions go this one has some merit. The call is for a podcast to be removed and an apology. You can check it out the transcript from the podcast here. The petition is here.
If you take the time to read the transcript you will discover that it is essentially an interview with a mother of two autistic young men who is taking the opportunity to complain and moan about how tough her life is. This one is particularly offensive to autistics, with statements talking about how she would rather have not had children, encouraging others to not have children, and the morning of the boys she never have. It’s completely and utterly anti-autistic, negativity that is not necessary, uncalled for, inaccurate and of course highly offensive.
There are a few themes that run through the interview from start to finish, and these themes are very much parent centric with no insight into the actual autistic boys that are being talked about. No respect for their rights to dignity, respect and self-determination. To the point that this mother presents for all listeners a recording of what appears to be one of her boys mid meltdown. It’s terrible. The most dominant theme running through is how terrible it is to be an autism parent.
This mother bemoans how terrible it was to discover that their first child was autistic. Shock horror the young fellow didn’t have speech, or as she puts it lost speech at around 18 months of age. Then is the bemoaning of already being pregnant with the next child, and how that’s ok because they will be able to be a role model, whatever that means, to the first child. Shock horror again the second child had no speech either. So this poor woman is apparently cursed.
The remainder of the interview is littered with references to not being able to work because it’s so tough being an autism parent, of having to give up on the idea of being a real parent, of being un able to go on holidays, to be unable to travel, to be unable to do this that and the other. It is very much all about the mother and absolutely nothing about the two actually autistic children involved.
Where the children are mentioned, they are mentioned in light of how terrible their behaviour is, even to the point that they are labelled as the lunatic. I don’t understand how one can refer to their own child in such a way.
Discussion of how it was so difficult to get services to fix them. I’m sorry but they are not broken and they do not need fixing. They need accepting and encouraging to be their very best. To believe they can achieve and to be supported to do so.
The mother talks about the father discussing at some point how he could have been such a good dad and now he can’t. He could have ensured they were well-educated sensitive, etc. Sorry sir, but there is nothing stopping you from still doing that.
I think i’ve made my point, that this is not about autistics but all about the parents. I don’t want to spend this whole post as a parent bash, that’s not my intention at all. The thing I do want to get across though is that just because the children you bear are autistic and not allistic this doesn’t make them less, it doesn’t mean the world has ended, and it certainly does not mean you need to mourn the child you never had.
That whole idea of mourning the child you never had is an idiocy in itself. How do you mourn something you never had, how do you mourn for a child you never knew. The act of mourning is about losing someone who you knew, who was close to you. You can’t do that for someone who never existed. It’s nothing more than self-indulgence in my opinion.
To be clear, parenting an autistic child has its own unique challenges. It also has its own unique joys and wonders. Just like parenting any child does. Parenting any child has challenges. It’s not a walk in the park for anybody, there is always challenges and joys, failings and wonders. Parenting is hard work for neurodiverse and neurotypical children and parents.
Imagine being one of those autistic boys and to hear your mother talking about you the way this mother has talked about them.
The whole premise of autism as something bad, something less, something disordered and sick is what has given rise to a narrative and feeling in the community about autism that allows for the rise of these kinds of podcasts, for the many mommyblogs out there devoted to bemoaning the catastrophe of being an autism parent. It has given rise to the so-called warrior mom fighting against autism.
I have declared previously that we don’t need any warrior mommies. Well maybe I was wrong about that. In fact, yes we do need some warrior moms and some warrior dads and some warrior siblings, some warrior teachers, some warrior doctors, some warrior aunt and uncles. You get the picture. Warriors are needed. Warrior to fight against…
To fight against autism? NO NEVER.
To fight for autistics, to fight for acceptance, to fight for inclusion, to fight for success.
Yes we do need warriors. We need warriors to fight for us to join the cause for full acceptance and inclusion.
To those that consider themselves warriors against autism, please I implore you, please stop fighting against the essence of who your children are and turn and fight for your children to be accepted and included, to be safe from bullying and abusive treatments at the hands of so-called helpers.
The true fight is the fight for acceptance. There is no cure to fight for to search for, there never will be. You can be aware all you like, but until acceptance goes with that awareness then that awareness does nothing for the autistic community.