On a random, unremarkable Monday, I decided to do something I generally tend to avoid. Against my better judgment, I decided to join an Autism Support group on a fairly well known mommy's forum.
Useful tips and information? Check. Parents whose children have varying degrees of autism on the spectrum? Check. Some know-it-all mommy making fun of what I say, or telling me I'm parenting my child with autism wrong? Check, check, and check.
I answered a few questions first. So far, so good. Then I saw a post posing a question. A mother asked if we had one question to ask our autistic child, and they could answer back, what would it be? I answered that I would ask my daughter what I could do to help her, or how I could make things better for her. Pretty good answer, right? Apparently, not.
Not only was I told that this was too much of an open and general question, but I was then given suggestions about how I should talk to my child. I explained that I was asked a question that I had simply answered, and that I would absolutely ask my child how I can help her when she has a meltdown. I was then told that she was just trying to help me “communicate better with my kiddo”. This was followed by another mother who acted as if I had said the most ridiculous thing she's ever heard...complete with the obligatory “LOL” in the context, to let me know how stupid I really was.
I'd like to say that this is the only time I've seen this behavior, but it isn't. In fact, my daughter has only been diagnosed for a month, and I see it over and over again on numerous social media venues. If it's not the line drawn between “high functioning” and “low functioning”, it's arguing about vaccines, or arguments about how you should treat your child with autism. Hint: you're probably doing it wrong.
Also, if you don't accommodate a child with autism a hundred percent, then you're an intolerant jackass that should be punched directly in the face. I'm not kidding you, I've seen this numerous times. I've seen parents of “neuro-typical” children attacked for saying that an autistic child shouldn't listen to a movie loudly during a church service. I've seen parents of autistic children enraged because a parent of a toddler doesn't want a 21 year old in the ball pit with their 2 year old child. I've seen cussing, screaming, and much to do about “insensitivity”, and “intolerance” against children with special needs.
I have a message for parents in the autism community who act like this:
Get your shit together. Immediately.
You're supposed to be a community. You're supposed to be uplifting each other, not arguing with each other. Regardless of what your story is, aren't we all in this together? Let's stop disparaging each other, and start supporting each other a little bit more. Okay?
Don't we want our children to be treated equally? If your child didn't have autism, would you let them sit in the middle of a church service and listen to a movie? I would certainly hope not. Would you think it's appropriate for a normal 21 year old to be playing in a toddler section of pretty much anywhere? I seriously doubt it.
If we want others to be aware of our children, then we need to be aware of others as well. That means no free pass. Expect others to be tolerant. Don't expect them to bend over backwards for you. If you do, you'll be nothing but disappointed.
You may be wondering what I did about the forum where I got those “super supportive” replies? Well, I left. I took my toys and I went home. Which is sad, because unbeknownst to them, my toy box is quite large. In it is my mother, who not only is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, but actually did Autism Day Placement for the public school system in our area.
I actually have a great support system in place. Sadly, others don't. Let's get it together, people.
Help is a beautiful thing for someone who really needs it, wouldn't you agree?