Home » Autism » Never say never, ever

Never say never, ever

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.

18 thoughts on “Never say never, ever

  1. Go Mama Bear!
    I feel for you, I do. I can’t understand it. Like, myself and my girls, we have bad reactions to vaccines and as such, we spread them out in 2-3 Fridays so we can recover over the weekend and not miss school. That’s it. We still get our vaccines. My eldest daughter got the chicken pox, but she got such a mild version (because of the vaccine) it was basically a lil mini vacay for her at home. No fever, fewer than a dozen spots! Totally different from my unvaccinated childhood experience!
    So when I’m listening to people or reading people talk about their irrational aversion to vaccines, all I can think is “We’ll see how you do when your kid’s temp is 105 and he’s covered in spots. Or how will you respond when they’re coughing up blood?” Are they gonna rub some essential oil on them or take them to the dr? I don’t get it.
    And yes, I always think the same damned thing, “Is having an autistic child worse than having no child?!?” Are they kidding me with this? I have autistic children in my life and this is unfathomable. They’re CHILDREN!
    It’s like they want to blame anyone, anything for something they have no concept of.
    Don’t even get me started on protecting the herd.
    I’m so sorry that you’ve had these sorts of encounters. I don’t begrudge anyone sharing their story, but I have a hard time accepting parents who think autism is the worst thing that could happen to their child. (Or really, it’s to them, isn’t it? They’re worried about how it will affect their lives.)
    If anyone knows outside himself knows what he is capable of, it’s you. I hope he exceeds even his own expectations, for that is good living.

  2. Love that Mama Bear instinct. I was home the day DeNiro was on and I just wanted to turn the TV off. They also asked him if he noticed a difference after his child received vaccines. His response was, “No, but my wife said she did.” Having worked in a childhood immunization clinic and seen the repercussions of parents choosing not to vaccinate, it is quite scary. Measles, whooping cough…and as a new mom with a baby just starting her vaccinations, it is a scary world to have her in. When I read about what people were saying an autistic child “couldn’t” do, my first thought was, “Can we talk about how many incredible autistic people are out there today and in the past who have done amazing things. And many people didn’t even realize they were autistic.”

  3. I’m always getting into “debates” on Facebook, I can’t resist.
    Mostly they’re about the three things that seem to upset Americans the most (it is almost always with Americans that I have these heated discussions); religion, guns and politics.
    However, the other segment of the Fb argumenterati that I frequently take issue with are the rabid conspiracy theorists (9/11 “truthers”, Chemtrail nut jobs, anti-vaxxers and other tinfoil helmet wearing loony tunes) and they come in all nationalities.
    I have several autistic spectrum friends and one relative who is high functioning and I was also in an 18 year relationship with someone who had a child with ADHD/OCD/Tourettes, so I have a fair bit of experience in what they can and cannot do, so I can say with some confidence that your anonymous keyboard warrior has no idea what he’s on about.
    Plus, there is of course the small matter of all the truly great minds who are now thought to almost certainly been on the spectrum, or to have had full blown autism:
    Albert Einstein.
    Amadeus Mozart.
    Sir Isaac Newton.
    Charles Darwin.
    Thomas Jefferson.
    Hans Christian Anderson.
    Andy Warhol.
    Emily Dickinson….the list goes on.

    How terrible it must be to lumped in with such minor contributors to the human condition.

    • “tinfoil helmet wearing loony tunes” – hahahahaha!!! I love that. And yes, those are the ones I find myself typing, and then deleting, because it isn’t worth it.
      Keeping this one, and may borrow it when I have to go to battle yet again with some person completely ignorant of what it means to be autistic, and what autistic people are capable of.

  4. Thank you again for bringing light to this and for teaching me so much. You are helping me in my understanding of autism, as well as helping me in my work with the youth at church since we have a couple of kids with autism who in my mind are more special and gifted than most in ways I don’t completely understand, but am eager to learn ♥

  5. FB is a great place to spit poisonous words and spout ignorant comments. Like you, I avoid those discussions. It’s like arguing religion and politics, everyone gets angry and nothing gets accomplished. As a teacher, I know full well autistic children can definitely be leaders. Great post! 🙂

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