It is rare I will comment upon, much less engage in, a discussion on a controversial topic on Facebook. It just isn’t worth it. There are too many people out there who are all too willing to spout vitriol and hatred rather than discuss facts, just because they’re “hidden” behind a computer screen and keyboard. I can count on two fingers the number of times I’ve ever chimed in, and then scuttled away, turning off notifications for that post. I don’t do conflict…I may have mentioned that before.
Two days ago, I came across a post on a community page for my town, and I couldn’t take it. I HAD to say something. It was yet another discussion on vaccines being a cause of autism. (Thanks, ever so much Mr. DeNiro, for taking this discussion backwards ten years). The things people were writing in the discussion disgusted me, hurt me, made me angry. So I simply wrote I was offended by the discussion, as the mother of an autistic child, because A) vaccines do NOT cause autism; and B) saying your child becoming autistic is the worse than your child contracting an eradicated disease, a disease which could result in death, is flat-out insulting to the autistic community. Granted, I look at this through the lens of the mom of a high-functioning autistic person, but still….
I left the notifications going for a day, then turned them off. Somehow, one snuck back in this morning. Knowing I would likely see something that would upset me, or be subjected to more anger, hatred, and ignorance, I still clicked the button to go see the state of the discussion. What I saw was a friend, one who knows us, knows our family, but whom does not deal firsthand with autism, was pointing out another person’s ignorance and prejudice of and against autism/autistic people. I was touched, but then I of course had to go backwards to get the context. What I read moved me to such anger, and such pain, I had to engage.
This man had written that autistic people could not be leaders….that their autism precluded the ability to lead, that they could be “great in a think tanks or cabinets”….Oh you can bet I was absolutely FUMING mad. How dare he? How dare he say just because someone is autistic they are fundamentally unable to lead? (Saying all the bad words all over again just thinking about this) I pray this man is simply ignorant, has no experience with any autistic people. My response, out of the anger of the moment, was his statement was ignorant and prejudiced, and don’t ever tell me my child can’t do something because he’s autistic. I also told him to get to know some autistic people, maybe do some research on some of the seriously successful people in our world, and not just those from the past.
It terrifies me this level of ignorance exists. So much for raising awareness. Those were my thoughts. It breaks my heart to know there are people out there who would hold my child back/down due to some diagnosis. My child can lead, if he chooses. He is empathetic. He can focus on so many small details in a project. He is learned to collaborate. He has amazing recall. His comprehension of the overall story is incredible. His curiosity drives his learning. And when he wants something, he will do what it takes to achieve it. Hmmmm…sounds something like a leader to me…how does it sound to you?
I turned notifications off again on that discussion. There are plenty in there fighting the good fight, with facts, intelligence, and compassion. My momma bear came out in grand fashion today. I can’t imagine it’s the last time it will happen. Just don’t ever say never, ever, about what my child can or cannot do as an autistic person.