Ryan’s such a sweetheart…
Monthly Archives: April 2012
So I jumped on the bandwagon this week–this picture of wildflowers made me sneeze just LOOKIN at it–sorry Ryan.
I’ve been chewing on this for a day now. How to say this. How to make a statement that rings clear enough without being overly emotional or sentimental. Hell, I don’t even know how to START talking about this, let alone do so with any sense of logic.
A few days ago a mother killed her child. A 4 year-old child. She was a stay-at-home mom. That child had been diagnosed with Autism.
Articles about this abound–but it is one statement from News Channel 10 in San Diego that felt like a knife to my heart:
“San Diego police sources told 10News Corby was a stay-at-home mother pushed to the edge handling a difficult child with autism.”
With that simple little sentence, blame was placed squarely on the child. You know–the one who DIED. As if he weren’t even human.
Suddenly the outpouring of “concern” for the mother and the “hardships” she had to bear begin.
- ” I hope the media and health professionals team up to advise parents there are resources to help you deal with an autistic child.”
- “…people just don’t get it…the daily drain of dealing with a difficult child.”
- “It is financially, mentally, emotionally, and socially devastating to have a child with autism. As the child matures into an adult there are very few services. The future at this moment in time is bleak for people with autism.
- I have stories where the most sane people in our community have snapped and done weird things with their autistic child because of the extreme behaviors that can be present. It is sad and tragic. We need more supports for families and people with autism. Autism is now an epidemic that no one is addressing adequately.”
(emphasis added by ME)
I read comments like this and think–am I wrong to vent my frustrations? Do people REALLY think an Autism diagnosis is the end of the world? Look at the choice in words I highlighted: bleak, deal with, devastating. I read this and it makes me want to stop blogging. Because statements like this take this woman–this alleged murderer–from the realm of Susan Smith and Casey Anthony–women HATED by society when they snapped and (allegedly) murdered their own neurotypical children–to someone who needs “compassion” and “understanding” for the “hardships”with which she had to deal.
Does no one else see they hypocrisy here? And the very dangerous slippery slope created by this argument? By “justifying” this killing because she was “pushed to the edge” this news agency is perpetuating the argument that the lives of children and people with Autism, or any disability are not as valuable as those who are neurotypical.
Autism has many forms–it is a spectrum disorder after all. My son’s Autism is not the same as my friends, such as Marj or Sunday or Jill–but no matter the “hardships” we face, no matter how rock bottom we get, we all agree on one thing: hurting our child(ren) is NOT an option. Hell, I can’t even imagine hurting myself or my husband only because of the damage it would do to my child. IT. IS. NOT. AN. OPTION.
But moreover–why can we not address the fact that mothering–ON ANY LEVEL–can be difficult for some? Why is it assumed that this woman was mentally unstable, but that other women who murder their children are cold blooded killers? Again–this creates the argument that the diagnosis of a disability in your child is a free pass for crazy.
I know plenty of mothers of special needs and neurotypical children. I’ve seen some with picture-perfect catalog editions of children teetering on the edge of sanity and in need of a good therapist. I’ve seen some with kids on the far end of the spectrum, with violent, non-verbal children handle life with amazing aplomb and peace. Most of us–you know, every day folk with every sort of kid–manage, day to day, some good some bad, like people do. Parenting any child can be a challenge for some, and NONE of that has to do with our kids’ abilities or challenges. It has everything to do with a person’s readiness to parent, to grow, to deal with society, and the media portrayal of parenting, and how much they plan to use or ignore it. It has everything to do with a person’s readiness to lose a bit of themselves, and sacrifice, and be selfless–SELFLESS–no matter the cost. It has everything to do with that person. PERIOD. We don’t blame children for divorce do we? Or for financial ruin? or for any of the other adult choices we make? Because if you do, then frankly, you are still a child yourself.
Our job here as parents to to raise these lil larvae so that they can become butterflies.
Do there need to be more outlets for parents? YES. Does access to services need to be more transparent? YES. Do we need to erase the stigma of mental illness and the fear of seeking help? YES, YES and YES.
We also need to recognize that Autism is NOT a death sentence. We need to stop scaring folks that is is so horrific, so “bleak” that it is an excuse for idiocy. We need people to be honest about Autism–the bad AND the good. Alongside the frustrations of parents, who need to vent and to find their own community, we need the success stories, the triumphs and the stories of beauty that come out of Autism. If the numbers continue to rise (and i have no doubt that they will) then we need to know the WHOLE story–and not just the fear mongering anecdotal tales of playboy bunnies with no talent.
We also need to realize that a 4-year-old boy died here. DIED. Allegedly at the hands of his mother. Whom he trusted implicitly. A 4-year-old who had value. A 4-year-old who deserved better.
I do not want to hear excuses. I do not want to be told I should have compassion–told to me by the same people who told me I am part of the problem when I didn’t think Casey Anthony should be sentenced to death.
If we are to have compassion–then we have to be more liberal in its application. Compassion, I’m afraid, is not conditional. If you doubt that–ask this guy.
I, for one, will admit I am a little unforgiving on this one. My heart right now is for that little boy’s father, and family. And for that little life. Just a year younger than my own son. My son with Autism. Who deserves every chance he can get, and whose life–no matter what the media tries to say for sake of ratings–has value. Beyond measure.
You may reprint this piece “Playing the Blame Game” (and only this piece) as long as credit is given to the Author, Dawn Hentrich. This post may not be edited, but you can use excerpts. Please include a link to This Side of Typical.
Originally published on This Side of Typical (http://thissideoftypical.com) on April 5, 2012 by Author Dawn Hentrich. All rights reserved.
Today is World Autism Awareness day. People around the country and world are “lighting it up blue”. The recent studies have helped bring more awareness lately with it’s startling 1 in 88.
I don’t have anything special planned. No blue light bulb, no series of posts. And it’s not that i’m hatin on anything–it’s just that most of my audience–YOU–already know and are aware. It feels like preachin to the choir, frankly.
Yeah–I may have some new readers–but they will become aware soon enough of the role of Autism in my life–and now theirs.
So, I thought i would bring you a piece i wrote last year at this time–a piece that got a lot of views, comments and feelings. Last year i got involved in an alphabetic post for April (one letter per day, sundays off–it’s prolly going on again this year too) starting, of course, with the letter A…
A is for Autism
(originally posted April 1, 2011)
A is also for April, which is Autism Awareness Month. And I realized, when I started writing this post, which was looking to be the ubiquitous “Autism” post, “A” stands for a lot of other things too…
A is for ALL-ENCOMPASSING, which this disorder can be on the worst of days. And sometimes on the best of days. There is no hiding from it, no matter how long you stay under the bed.
A is for ANONYMOUS, which you sometimes feel in the sea of parents of neurotypical children who have no idea what you are going through. Or what you sometimes wish you were when your child decides to melt down in public.
A is for ASKING questions–which starts when you begin to suspect, and never ends, after the diagnosis, after therapy, after an IEP, after he grows, after he regresses…
A is also for ABILITY, ACCESS and ACADEMICS. You know how smart your kid is. And you know what they’re capable of. I mean, this guy is a friggin genius here, am I wrong? Some parents are lucky enough to have teachers that know the same thing. And some have to fight to make sure these three words work hand in hand so that each child is receiving a quality education. Otherwise you have to open up that economy sized can of whoop-ass that is fueled by your…
ANGER, the anger you feel about the diagnosis, the anger you feel at the professionals you refuse to take you seriously, the anger you feel at (insert your deity/faith here) for forcing you to deal with this, the anger you feel at those neurotypical parents for no reason other than jealousy, the anger you have toward bok choy because you don’t know how to cook it, and the anger you have toward douchebags who judge and mock your child. Anger can be strong but so too is
ACCEPTANCE. Once you accept things get easier. You start working from a point of progression instead of fighting it. You move FORWARD, and everyone is happier for it.
A is also for ADAPT–the thing you have to learn quickly, because Autism doesn’t let you make any long term plans. And you never know what it’s gonna bring each morning. So you assume a boxer’s stance, and get ready to rumble.
A is for AGENCY–the many, many agencies you’ll have to work with to get your child the services he/she needs. Services your taxes may or may not pay for, or that you will have to pay for, or that the insurance company says your kid doesn’t need, making you engage yet another agency. State, local, national–there’s an agency for everything, and everything has an agency.
A is for ANXIETY, yours and your child’s. Everyday you are anxious that your child is gonna keep it together and not meltdown. And everyday, they are anxious because the world is so intense. It may require prescriptions, or therapy or sensory deprivation tanks. It’s like a weird houseguest who just stays and stays, and doesn’t really talk to anyone, but stares all the time. Like, you wanna kick them out, but it’s aunt Charla’s kid, and you can’t really.
A is for ADVOCATE. You are your best child’s advocate. No one in the world knows your child the way you do. And no on would fight harder. A bulldog. A rottweiler. Teeth bared and snarling.
A is for ANSWERS, which you may never get. Or you may get too many. That contradict each other. And give you more stress and more anxiety and make you reach for…
ALCOHOL. Sometimes you have to remember that you are an adult, and that adults have special beverages that allow them to unwind after a particularly rough day. or hour.
A is for AMAZING–our kids are capable of amazing things, as long as you believe it.
As much as i hate how much this word is used in “Oprah-like” circles, A is also for AUTHENTIC. At some point, you realize that you must live as authentically as you can, otherwise Autism will chew you up and spit you out with no regrets. If you are not coming from a place that is true, then you will just be flapping and spinning and repeating the things other people say. Sometimes that authenticity will hurt, offend and discomfort others, and you have to be willing to live with that. That’s what being authentic means–being YOURSELF above all other things. It requires a great deal of navel gazing and self-judgement, and sometimes the ghosts of your past can be frightening. But nothing feels better than waking up in the morning knowing WHO you are and what you want.
And lastly, A is for ALWAYS. This disorder may be with him for the rest of his life, but so will my love. ALWAYS.
WIthin our own lil Autie community and elsewhere. Some folks have just lost their frickin minds.
Civility is gone. dead. One cannot voice an opinion –OPINION–without someone trying to eviscerate them.
When i taught, i used this thing called the Socratic Method. WHen done right, it involved posing a question and then allowing the voices around me to discuss. Occasionally, you pose another question. And another–if done well, you don’t even really voice your opinion. Now–i was hardly successful on that level–but i did my utmost to hear the voices around me–allowing their opnions to shape mine, as i hope they did too.
Was it free of contention? hardly. I was teaching teens afterall–and who knows drama more than a 16 year-old. Am i wrong?
But that was my job–to keep them from killing one another and to maybe even LISTEN to one another. Because i was helping them grow and mature.
And you do that not by gaining years in life, but by gaining knowledge and experience.
Our community–our AUtism community–seem to be in those teen drama years. I don’t mean we’ve only been around that long–but that this seems to be the level of growth we are at.
And I, for one can tell you the teen years are ROUGH. Both on the teen and non-teen.
now, someone in our community might come across this and think i am doggin our own.
Au Contraire. I am pleased to see it–as uncomfortable as it is. It means we are growing, people. GROWING.
I wonder if others in the SPecial Needs community look on us and say–”remember when we were there?” I also wonder if they could give us any guidance.
’cause that’s where we are–without guidance. And it’s getting a little “Lord of the Flies” if you ask me.
So, imma sit back and try to observe, try not to let my emotions get the best of me (although when i do i get the most page views…) and maybe interject a question or two.
And hold off forming an opinion until i’ve gained as much knowledge and experience as i can…