‘Autism’ Parents: We’ve got a problem.

I’m going to preface this post with a specific warning:

If you utilize this post to argue that all autistic people are violent and abusive, I will personally come to your house and eat those leftovers you were saving for lunch.
Be warned. 
Be aware that this post may contain some topics that may be a little upsetting, as I’m discussing violence, abuse, and some other things that we really need to talk about.

 

‘Autism’ parents, we’ve got a really big problem. There’s an issue with the narrative, and we need to address it.
I’m writing this post not simply from the perspective of an autistic adult. It’s also coming from the view of someone who went through the same thing you are. Yes, you read that correctly.

Let me give a little background:

My little brother was born when I was ten years old. I was ecstatic! I already had a younger sister, but I was so excited to have a brother. I thought I’d relate more to him; I wasn’t wrong.

Not soon after, my mother abandoned him at our house and didn’t return.
Naturally, I was crushed. More than that, I was furious. My guardians already had enough to deal with at that point, and another child to care for would be difficult.
All that said, I wanted him with us – away from anything that could hurt him. I begged. I pleaded. I asked as hard as I could to let us keep him, to not give him back if she tried to take him.

Of course, they said yes. Immediately, I prepared myself for my duties as the protective older sister. When he was diagnosed with autism at age two,  this became far more extensive.

I would bathe him up until the week I left for college.
I measured his medications and crushed them into his favorite yogurt. (Blue, if you were curious.)
I went to his speech and occupational therapies several times a week, and practiced the things he learned. I went with him to his first day of school. Of course, I cried more than he did.
I made sure his food was perfect – french fries made just like he wanted. If he felt like it instead, he’d have a chicken fry sandwich complete with his favorite McDonald’s sauce we bought in bulk.  

When I was in middle school, autism became my own special interest.
My middle school project was about autism, complete with case studies and interviews.  I read all the autism literature I could find (mostly library books and autism parenting books), and immersed myself in the Vanderbilt paperwork. I delved into the world of IEPs, visual schedules, and even rudimentary sign language. I took notes, went to the doctor appointments, researched the medications, and read about possible co-morbid conditions.
And now, I’m still sending them resources and information on medications, papers for teachers, and going over doctor notes for him – despite being six hours away.

(Of course, I was an undiagnosed autistic girl who also needed quiet. When I wasn’t needed to do these things, I was often in my room stimming – away from the loud television and people. I wasn’t a perfect caregiver, but I did do a lot.)


All of that to say: it wasn’t easy. And that’s where I’m going with this one.

Here is where our problem lies.
And to be better caregivers, we have to address this.

I read all the time about these ‘autism’ parents who complain about how terrible their lives are. They say they’re afraid of being hurt and their lives are destroyed. Some even talk about killing their kids.

You know what?

Yes, I got hurt by him or when I was helping him. I got bit, scratched, hit, and everything else. Usually it was just him being frustrated over lack of communicating his needs, and I understood that.

I ran after him when he went out the door straight for a lawnmower, and I fell to the concrete.
I grabbed him right before he ran into a street and ended up with my arm covered in blood and scratches.
I was kicked in the head and sustained a traumatic brain injury that requires me to now use a cane, and has caused a ton of nervous system issues. I even use a wheelchair part-time due to another condition that occurred afterwards.

I’m a twenty year old college student with a quality of life considered to be equal to someone with congestive heart failure.

But you know what?

I never in a million years wanted to hurt my little brother.

My life isn’t “destroyed.” He was never a burden. I still don’t blame him. He was often overwhelmed, and had meltdowns. As an autistic person myself, I understood it – even if I didn’t know I was autistic at the time. (I suspected, but was too focused on other things.) That behavior is communication, not spite.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get better health-wise, and that’s okay. I don’t know if I’ll get to run and dance again, or if there’s worse effects to come. It’s just what it is, and I’ve accepted that.

He’s a child. It’s not his fault. He once asked me if it was, and I hugged him tight and said absolutely not – because it isn’t. That behavior, as I just said, is communication. He wasn’t trying to hurt; he was overwhelmed.
I say all this not to complain about how violent autistic people can be, but that I get it.

(For the record: autistic people are far more likely to be victims of abuse and assault. )

I know where you’re coming from, but…

That is not an excuse to harm your children.

Your child is a child. You are their lifeline. They need love and support from you.

You don’t give your babies bleach, shock them, or starve them. You don’t talk about them as if they’re literally a death sentence for you. And you sure as hell don’t decide to murder your little ones. 

And if you literally want to kill your kid, if you would rather have a dead child than an autistic one, I have news for you and I want you to pay attention very closely:

Go and get help NOW.

I’m not kidding. You need to go see a therapist. You need to go to the ER. If you’re having these thoughts, you need professional help immediately.

That’s not normal, and it’s not healthy. If you’re having thoughts of harming yourself or your child, you need to seek psychiatric help as soon as possible. Your kid deserves better. Your mental health deserves better, too.

We have the Disability Day of Mourning every year because of this. Parents and caregivers are literally murdering their children because autism is seen as the worst thing to ever happen. It’s a problem; this narrative of autism as a tragedy is killing our kids.

Hopefully, you’re trying your best. The majority of you are probably thinking you’d never hurt your child like that. You might not even notice that this is going on. Unfortunately, filicide is extremely common, and it’s only getting worse.

‘Autism’ parents: stop. Listen for a moment.

Your kids are going through a world that wants to “cure” them, force them into suffering so they can look “normal.” Your kids are going to spend their entire lives dealing with a world that is hostile to them. People try to assimilate us to save their own pride, at the expense of our own comfort, safety, and stability.
Your kid is going to go through life being told that they should be literally “treated” with electroshock therapy because of their neurology. They’re going to be told that they shouldn’t reproduce. They’re going to be told that they’re not worth having space in this world. Your kid is going to grow up one day, and they’re going to hear this and internalize it.
I know this, because I hear it constantly.

You say it’s so hard to have an autistic kid?

Well, of course it is. But you know what?

Kids are hard.
They’re going to kick, hit, pinch, and everything else. Even neurotypical kids do that. I don’t know a single kid who hasn’t bit their caregiver or thrown something when grumpy.
Some neurotypical and allistic kids can be even more violent than autistic kids. Parenting is hard stuff, no matter who the kid is. You’re raising a human being with their own thoughts, emotions, and view of the world. That’s going to be tough.

(I’ll say it again for those in the back: autistic kids are way way way more likely to be abused and hurt.)

When you have a kid, you sign up for this. You love that little one unconditionally, you protect them with all your heart. You give them support. You love that child even if they have a disability, especially when they have a disability.

You teach them that they are allowed to exist, that they are just as valuable and needed in this world like anyone else. We need all the neurodiversity in this world we can get. That’s how things get done.

You teach your child that they’re not a burden. You teach them how to say no and that autonomy is often more important than compliance. You teach them that you love them, and that they will always have someone in their corner to back them up when times are tough.

I don’t care how hard you think it is raise an autistic child. It sounds harsh, but hear me out.

Trust me, I know VERY well that it’s hard. Parenting is hard. It’s not easy, and it’s not always roses and fluffy kittens. That has nothing to do with having an autistic kid; that’s just a fact of life.

The fear of getting hurt is valid. I can attest to that, and I don’t think I can downplay that. I’ll have the side effects of that for the rest of my life.
But that behavior is communication, and you have to learn how to read it. I did.

You have to fight for better supports, for ways to make it easier on your kid – and by doing this, easier for you too. You need to go to support groups that are going to empower you and your child, remember to take a break sometimes, and breathe. Read from autistic adults, reach out to your local autism groups, and get help when you’re too overwhelmed.

The fear of autism is killing our kids. Love your children. Love yourself.
Don’t give in to that fear of burdens and nonsense that’s pushed out at you. Celebrate your child as they are.
We have to change this narrative.

Sure, it’s hard.

But you know what?
Your kid’s going to have it much harder.

 

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