And I’ve been struggling greatly ever since in pretty much every sense of the word “struggling.” I’d read and heard enough to know that the meeting wouldn’t be a good place for me, but I wanted to see for myself.
I attended legitimately as a parent of an Autistic child and chose not to disclose that I’m Autistic because it didn’t seem like a good idea at all.
TW: ableism, discussion of filicide, brief mentions of eugenics, ABA, etc.
The lack of compassion and understanding for Autistic children was quite overwhelming to be around in person. It wasn’t even halfway through the first hour before one mother made a “joke” about school needing to start soon so her child “could continue living.”
Yes, gallows humor, sure. Except that THIS HAPPENS! Parents murder their Autistic children. Then the parents get the sympathy and empathy and are excused because “well, their child ‘had autism’ so it was hard for them.”
Well, fuck that.
Yes, parenting is difficult. Parenting any child of any neurology is difficult.
As Shannon Des Roches Rosa says in the last link:
[We] signed up for this parenting gig, we chose to be mothers — and that choice came with no warranty, and no guarantees.
Murder of disabled children should NOT be excused or minimized! Especially not using the reason that “parenting is difficult.” It’s not okay to joke about potentially murdering a disabled child in a room full of strangers who may also be barely coping with parenting in a society that doesn’t support parents and really, really doesn’t support Autistic children!
Joking about and excusing those sorts of thoughts and desires (especially in a public forum) is partly how murdering Autistic children becomes more normalized and “understandable” in our society. Statements like: “You don’t walk in our shoes, you can’t understand, your child must not be as ‘severe’ so you just don’t know” help normalize it too.
None of those things are support. They aren’t even parental support. Having horrible thoughts about one’s child can sometimes happen in a moment of frustration, yes, but putting voice to it? In a room full of other struggling parents of vulnerable children? I cannot even fathom it!
I could imagine saying something like, “I’m struggling with these thoughts and feelings and need support to let them go and support my child in the best way possible. Does anyone have advice?” because THAT would be seeking support as opposed to making offhanded remarks about, “Haha, if my child doesn’t go to school soon then I’ll probably murder them.”
Sure, maybe that exact mother would never murder her child, but there are so many others who do and can use the words of others to bolster their own frustration and justify their actions. I could be here all day linking to stories and posts and articles, but I’m exhausted. I’m done for now with that topic despite the fact that there were several other parents, including the group leader, who eventually jumped on the, “Thank goodness for school or there’d be so much more murder, physical abuse, and parents ending up in jail” idea.
There was also so much talk about genetic testing and how wonderful it is that there’s a database they can contribute DNA to so researchers can find the “cause” of autism. Much fearmongering about how the “incidence is rising.” Heaven forbid there be more of us.
There wasn’t much ABA therapy talk, thank goodness, although the parenting advice tended very heavily towards punitive behaviorism. They want to change their Autistic children to fit the world, which breaks us, instead of helping the world support us so that we can function reasonably well.
There wasn’t really any move towards trying to better understand their children or where they were coming from.
The most concerning thing to me was how well-meaning they all seemed to be. I probably could write a whole post about how dangerous “well-meaning” can be. They all think that they’re doing the right thing and that the group is providing some amazing support.
Meanwhile, I’m over here needing weeks to recover from attending just one meeting as I continue to actively fear for their children’s lives and well-being.