Are autism parent-hating articles dangerous?

Because I think they are.  I also try to avoid reading them if I can, but sometimes I don't succeed.

Very few are blatantly anti-parent, and there's many articles out there that include lots of interesting ideas, and useful information, but so many of them also suggest that most autism parents do everything wrong by their children, up to and including murder.  It's not just the adult autistic community that criticises autism parents either: it's teachers, service providers, friends, family, parents, other autism parents, the general public.  Just about everyone, in fact.


Perhaps I am just too fragile to be able to cope with these messages.  I certainly never came across anything like them as the mother of a severely disabled daughter.  Most people are kind and supportive to me in that role, charities lay on wonderful events for us to enjoy, like the fabulous day we had on Sunday.  I thought I was a good enough Mum until autism entered my life: Angel's biggest complaint is that I used to make her walk home from the swimming pool!  Reading all the posts that demonise autism parents just sends my self-esteem plummeting once again.  If I hate myself, how can I help my children to feel good about themselves, and poor self-esteem is a big issues for many autistics.

What will happen when impressionable autistic teenagers start to read these articles and accept their subliminal messages that their parents are to blame for everything that they perceive is wrong in their lives?  How is that going to help them? How will they feel about being told that the two people who they should be able to count on to help and support them could actually be their worst enemies?  What will happen to their sense of security, safety and trust? Will it not just increase the anxiety that many of them are prone to already?

And then there's the effect on parents.  Knock them too much and they may just give up and let their kids face the consequences of their choices to play video games all day, and eat nothing but pizza.  After all, what's the point if they're going to grow up and blame the parents anyway?

I read another post recently that suggested that many parents drug their children for their own convenience.  Are psychiatrists really that gullible that they would prescribe drugs because the parents can't cope, rather than because the child needs them?  The post also ignored all the parents who choose to drug themselves instead - whether with prozac or pinot grigio - in the belief that it will help them to be better parents.

You see most autism parents are trying their very best, yet many commentators still expect us to have the stamina and feelings of robots... and you wonder why I wrote a post wishing that I could be a Stepford Wife - it had nothing to do with husbands.

Note: I wrote this after having my version of a meltdown on Facebook involving some of my friends.  I hope that they will forgive me.



15 comments:

  1. Some of the autism-parent-hating articles are just plain awful and should be ignored (or insta-deleted, if that isn't possible). However, others, especially the ones written by adult autistics often contain lots of useful information -- on the sort of help that is genuinely HELPFUL to an autistic kid (and also what isn't helpful).

    For example, ABA therapy -- which is basically Skinnerian conditioning that is pretty darn close to torture when done "well" and flat-out torture when done not well. Parents of kids on the spectrum insist upon signing their offspring up for hours upon hours upon hours of ABA... and react with outright hostility when adult autistics point out how they were hurt by ABA.

    (My daughter's closest friend is a little boy on the milder end of the spectrum, from her Montessori kindergarten class. If my girl wants to spend all day in the sandbox, declining an invitation to the toy kitchen, she spends all day in the sandbox and it's regarded as a person choice. If her friend S wishes to spend all day in the sandbox, he's being non-compliant -- it's not an option, and he'll be physically carried to the toy kitchen, period. He'll be written up for being uncooperative, despite the fact he's simply expressing a personal preference that ALL his non-disabled classmates are permitted to exercise. S does ABA therapy in an adjascent room for several hours each day -- a therapist tells him to touch his nose to get a Skittle. If S doesn't touch his nose - because he's done it 10x this morning and is bored, doesn't feel like eating a skittle, wants to go play in the sandbox with his BFF, etc -- he will be made to touch his nose. 20x. He can't just get up and leave, he MUST do what he's told. And he gets labelled non-compliant and uncooperative and sent home with a red card. S's aggression issues? Are very likely the product of the "therapy" he's subjected to for "his own good". If anybody attempted to make my girl sit in a chair and touch her nose 20x for a skittle, she'd maybe do it 3x or 4x and then attempt to wander off to do something else. If a therapist forced her to stay seated and touch her nose 17 or 16x more... well, she'd have none of it. Because it's boring and stupid to to touch your nose 20x. I'm willing to bet she'd get aggressive if folks kept forcing her to do something that she had no interest in).

    Parents of kids on the spectrum go on and on about how they would like to "fix" or "cure" their autistic kid -- and react with out-and-out hostility when adult autistics point out that they do not want to be cured. Or that since it's literally impossible to separate the kid from the autism (they're one and the same), a parent who wants to cure their kid is, in effect, saying they want a different kid. Not THEIR kid, the kid they've got, but a TOTALLY different kid. One who isn't autistic.

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    1. I wasn't actually thinking about ABA at all when I wrote this. I would say that kids can get aggressive without ABA! I have read adults complaining about it - perhaps those who feel that they have benefited from it are too afraid to speak out? Especially as I have also read that in many cases ABA was not carried out in an appropriate manner.

      I nearly put in a paragraph about the 'cure' issue, but I took it out... I have spoken on-line to some adult autistics who say they would like to be cured! But perhaps just of their difficulties. I don't understand what is so wrong about wishing your child's anxiety away, or severe sensory issues, or no sense of danger?

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  2. Well, Looking, once again, you expressed my feelings almost perfectly. While Jane's point about ABA is a valid one, my biggest objection to adult autistic's blogs is that they they seem to generalize an awful lot. I frequently read comments like "I understand your child better than you because we share the same brain chemistry." Um, I don't think I have much in common with someone just because they are neuro-typical. My kiddos are are both autistic and have next to nothing in common. Does that mean that if my older son tells me that my younger son is feeling a certain way, I should believe him? My older son bosses, redirects and tries to force my younger son to do waaaaaaaay more than my hubby or I ever would. I don't think he is capable (yet) of understanding their differences. He frequently says things like "well you should have known how I was feeling". Sorry. Not a mind reader or empathic. I try. I screw up. My parents screwed up. I can spend my entire adult life blaming them or I can go forward.

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    1. Once again I agree with you too. Generalisation are lazy and unhelpful in most walks of life (though I'm sure that I do them sometimes) and no-one should spend their lives blaming others for everything, that path just leads to resentment and bitterness. And yes, I've been guilty of that too xx

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  3. AAAAHHHHH, I can't bear being told that I don't know my son as well as someone who is actually autistic. UM, hello.... no one person is the same as the other! I know my son inside, outwards and back to front. I would never do anything to hurt him and I adore him.... BUT I would take away his autism in a flash, for his sake (and yes, also for mine ~ who is going to look after him when I die?). The parent hating articles really make me mad and I try hard to stay away from them. By the way, a lot of parents I have spoken to have expressed that their child/children do not want to be autistic, as it makes life difficult for them!

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    1. Yep, my older son (the verbal one) has told me that if he could have one wish in life it would be to not have autism. So sad.

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    2. What you say makes perfect sense to me xx

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  4. I hate these articles; they spread damaging stereotypes about parents. I sometimes wonder what our children will think if they ever read this stuff; that we don't care for them? Its all wrong. As a parent I have unconditional love for my children and accept them for who they are. Of course I would like their anxiety disorders cured (as I would a child without ASD) but this doesn't mean I want ASD cured. There is a difference. As for autistic adults thinking they know my child more than me. They may share the condition but this doesn't mean they know my children more than me. For a start ASD differs from person to person; I see that in my own two children. Also, I live with my children 24/7 and I share their personality and autistic traits which means I have insight into why they behave the way they do. These articles rarely make reference to this. However I do welcome the insights from other autistic adults; they do have a role to play in advocating for their community and themselves. I just don't like it when some of them undermine parents in the way they do. This does nothing to forge a strong cohesive community which makes me quite sad. Deb

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    1. Thanks Deb: yes there are some really helpful adult autistics who sometimes comment on here and I hope they will not be upset by this post, because I do appreciate all the advice that they have to offer: but they never make me feel undermined or worthless x

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  5. I'm in the position that actually we have autistic children and my partner is autistic. If I'm brutally honest, when he's being really logical he can totally understand where the kids are coming from and what to do about it when there's a meltdown far better than I can - but when he loses it too then nope. He doesn't spot the subtle hints and is no good when involved in the situation, but when he's approaching from outside then he's usually excellent.
    I don't think that makes him necessarily better - it's just that in the same way as our autistic teenagers have to try really hard to spot how others feel, we have to try really hard to work out why they've acted in a certain way.
    I honestly think until you've been that person listening to someone run about the house screaming and screeching non-stop profanities over a lost pen lid from 1am until 2.30am, you really can't judge me for putting the pillow over my ears and taking 5 minutes breath :D

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    1. I certainly wouldn't judge you, well I try not to judge anyone. And very interested in your perspective as to how an autistic parent relates to their autistic children, thank you!

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  6. Well I'm happy to say I seem to have missed all these parent-hating posts. I think you're right though, it'd be better to just ignore them anyhow. Parents of autistic children/children with autism (let's not go there right now) do have to work SO much harder than parents of NT children. I know, I have one of each, and I can imagine what my life would be like without an autistic child. Not easy, no parenting is ever easy, but certainly easier than what I now face daily. I would imagine that in at least 90% of cases (though I have no proof), the parents of an autistic child are doing their very best for them, or at least what they think is best (not getting into the ABA debate!) and often if they are failing, it's down to lack of support from others. Who's perfect when it comes to any parenting? Some children are going to grow up bitter and disliking parental input no matter what has happened - I just hope mine grow up to think that I did the very best I could. x

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    1. From everything that I've read about what you do for your kids I'm 100% certain that yours will appreciate everything you did for them when you grow up, and I hope that mine do too x

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  7. I'm with you on this. It is disheartening. The comment sections usually more so. I avoid them-and stick only to the lovely bloggers that I know. :)

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    1. I should do that too, but sometimes curiosity gets the better of me!

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