Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Media Has It Wrong About Autism And PTSD

In 2009, a study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison claimed that “autism moms” have PTSD like symptoms similar to combat veterans.   Recently,  a FOX station in Houston aired a story with an “autism mom” that claimed that “living in continual crisis”  with her Autistic child caused her PTSD like symptoms.  The story cited the earlier study.

There were many problematic aspects to this story.   


First of all, I don’t buy the whole “Warrior Mom” thing.   It’s gross.  It’s ableist and it’s incredibly disrespectful to your children.  The entire story didn’t even attempt to understand the point of view of the Autistic person.  These types of stories rarely do.  Her Autistic child is non speaking, and we are told that he is unable to communicate.   

I’m sorry, but everyone can communicate.  Unless you are dead or unconscious, you are able to communicate.  It might not be spoken language, but that doesn’t mean there is no communication.  It just means that the people around you aren’t working hard enough to make sure that you are being supported and understood.  Is that the fault of the Autistic person or the fault of the people who will only accept traditional, spoken forms of communication?  

It would be hard to pick apart EVERY offensive and ableist thing about this story, because there is just SO MUCH WRONG WITH IT.

Is parenting an Autistic kid hard?  


But so is parenting ANY kid.  Parenting is stressful. It is hard.  If parenting were without challenges and hardships, CHILDREN WOULD NOT NEED PARENTS TO RAISE AND GUIDE THEM. Supporting your kids is the right thing to do, even when it is difficult or stressful.  


It is literally the bare minimum that our kids deserve.  Parenting is not something that is easy, but that is not our children’s fault.   I have said it before, but parenting is a humbling experience.   We parents do not know everything, but it’s our job to do the best that we can without tearing our children apart because it’s harder than we thought it would be.   If we talk about our children as a burden and a crisis, we are not building them up or loving them unconditionally.  We are tearing them down and telling them that we are not in their corner, we are not on their side.  

It is the ultimate betrayal.  

I do want to talk about one thing in this story that is often ignored.  PTSD and autism are a real problem, but not because of what we do to our parents, but because of every Autistic adult I know, including myself, I don’t know one that does not have PTSD due to being treated like a burden or a problem that needed to be fixed for their whole lives.   That’s the story the media needs to tell.  The effects of “treatments” and therapies, the effects of being talked to your whole life like you are causing everyone around you to suffer.  The effects of never being good enough, even when you are doing your best.  Your best isn’t “normal”.  Your best is just being who you are, being Autistic, and it’s not enough.

When you treat your kids like they are a problem just for existing while Autistic, you are teaching them ableism.  They are internalizing it.  They are absorbing all of those messages about autism that you are telling the world.  Even if you don’t think they are, they are listening.   They are watching, they are hearing.   What kind of messages do you want them to learn about themselves?

What you tell the world about them is how the world will treat them.   If their own parents are telling people they are a burden and a crisis, why would complete strangers give a damn about them or their rights?   

Autistic people deserve better.  

Your kids deserve better.   

Image: Green text reads : "I have not met another Autistic person who did not have PTSD from being treated as a burden or a problem that needed to be fixed for their entire lifes. That's the story we need to be telling. Text is on olive green/light purple paisley background.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Citizen Autistic

Citizen Autistic is an amazing documentary film directed by William Davenport that I have recently purchased for the library.   It features many prominent activists in the Autistic community such as Zoe Gross, Ari Ne'eman, and Landon Bryce. The film talks about how many organizations (such as Autism Speaks) and some parents in the autism advocacy community actually work against Autistic people.

Right now, the film is streaming for free on Hulu.  I highly recommend that anyone who cares about Autistic people watch this film!

I have a lot to say about Citizen Autistic, but I am going to save that for a special event that I am coordinating with Leah Kelley at 30 Days of Autism!

Leah and I have previously done live tweets together of the really horrible Autism Speaks propaganda film Sounding The Alarm: Battling the Autism Epidemic, which I wrote about at Autism Women's Network.  We have also live tweeted about the very awesome film Vectors of Autism, that Leah wrote about on her blog.

We are very excited to do a live tweet of Citizen Autistic on January 19th at 6 p.m PST/ 9 p.m. EST.  Since the film is currently available to watch for free on Hulu, we are hoping that many others are able to  join in the conversation!

Image Description:  Black text reads:  Join 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley & The Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library for a live tweet of the   documentary film Citizen Autistic directed by William Davenport.  A film that explores the many ways that Autism Speaks works against the Autistic Community January 19, 2015 6pm PST/9pm EST @Leah_Kelley @WileyAutLibrary.  To the right of text in lower corner is an image from the film of a person in winter clothes and noise cancelling headphones holding a black sign that with an image of a blue puzzle piece with a red slash through it that reads "I am not a puzzle, I am a person.  Below that is white text that reads #CitizenAutistic