Last week I wrote about “The Kids Who Beat Autism,” and that most of the online autism community was furious with that article – because most of them, or their children, face people who don’t want to accept them/their kids for who they are. I suppose part of me would love to get to that place – maybe I feel jealous. For me, it’s hard, because of the way my child tantrums (decibel-shattering, self-injuring, store-stopping, floor-writhing, unending) and the way he communicates what he wants and shows what he’s remembered (doesn’t). If this is the way he is and will always be, I suppose I have difficulty accepting that.
But why should my challenge be so unlike most other parents’? If some others are so accepting, that seems very post-1970s to me, very much an ongoing reaction to a prior era of over-discipline and spanking and “children should be seen and not heard” and such. If there are parents who believe they are raising their kids as some kind of free spirits, I’d say most of them are kidding themselves…we provide guidance, we enforce rules, we make 100 choices a day that direct who they’re going to be. These “free” parents sound like they would say of their plants, “all I did was give my plants water and sun, the plants did the rest” when in fact, if they ask a gardener, they’ll know that choice of water, soil development, placement and movement, and nearby plants and bugs all played a role in what that plant turned into. So when I say I’m not accepting my child exactly the way he is right now, I don’t think I’m that different from most parents…who aren’t kidding themselves.
Today I’m going to share a conversation I had with a Facebook friend. (I hope we’re still friends after this!) Two of her fb friends chimed in after me. I’ll just call them Jo, Beth, and Amy, after the Louisa May Alcott novel.
Jo posts a meme that reads: “Calling a human being ‘low functioning’ imposes upon them the destructive bigotry of low expectations. Calling them ‘high functioning’ can dismiss their very real challenges.
To put it another way, the bifurcation of human beings into functioning labels just doesn’t work. Autistic and not, we are ALL far, far more complex than any two-word modifier could ever convey. (Thank God.)” -Diary of a Mom