There's a post that popped up today from a fairly well-known "autism parent" that talks about closed groups on Facebook where autism parents can talk about their reality, also known as "how awful their lives are". I'll let said parent do the talking:
"This is a group that lives with “severe” or “extreme” challenges; aggression, self-injurious behavior, intensive behavioral challenges. Their lives are almost unmanageable. Their children (including adult children) require so much care, that these families struggle to make it through each day."
Said parent then proceeds to quote members of the group who say that they have wanted to kill their children, how difficult it is for them, etc. etc.
All throughout the comments parents applaud, saying this post was needed, saying that they, too, deal with these challenges, they, too, have wanted to kill their children. They say that better services are needed and that they would do anything for a cure. They mistakenly assume that autism acceptance means that autistic advocates and allies all think autism is a blessing, all rainbows and sunshine.
Autism isn't a blessing. Neither is any other disability. My disabilities are not blessings, nor burdens. They just are.
I grew up around several people who were "severely" autistic. I saw what they and their families went through. I'm still seeing it. I'm not oblivious to the very real struggles that disability can bring. I go through them myself. But that does not, and will never, justify hurting your children, or worse.
What is it about autism (and other disabilities) that serve as a metaphorical "get out of jail free" card? When parents shake their babies to get them to stop crying, we (rightly so) protest and demand that these parents serve appropriate jail time. When parents of autistic children abuse their children, we apparently demand sympathy and compassion for abusers and murderers. Don't believe me? Take a look.
This is a comment from an article about a man on trial for murder after shaking his baby daughter:
[Text reads: "Hang him - but first shake him half to death!!! What a smiling face he has so satisfied with what he did! He makes me sick!!!]
And this is a comment from an article about Kelli Stapleton, who tried to kill both herself and her autistic daughter back in December.
[Text reads: "People shouldn't judge this woman unless you've been in her shoes. Anyone who has dealt with a family member who has the same level of mental/emotional issues as this daughter can understand how the day-in/day-out stress simply wears you down. And there is no recourse in our systems for taking care of these people, the social safety nets have all been eliminated in cost-savings. It's a mess."]
See the difference? It astounds me.
There is no denying that we need better services. We need insurance coverage for AAC equipment, for programs that actually help disabled people, for personal care assistants. We need programs that cater to disabled people's strengths, while helping them through their weaknesses. We need sensory rooms galore. We need an education system that's flexible and doesn't focus on meaningless test scores. We need programs and schools and activities that are actually inclusive and welcoming toward people with disabilities. We need treatments - not cures - that will help disabled people manage the aspects of their disabilities that do cause suffering or otherwise interfere with living a full and happy life. Those are the kind of services we need and I am the first to say that the amount of services we have right now is sadly lacking.
But the need for better services does not, and will never justify wanting to hurt your child. Wanting to kill your child.
Services and cures - they're two separate issues, they're completely unrelated. Don't force them together. Treatment is not cure, and some people may seek treatment voluntarily to better their lives. That's okay. But when you're forcing treatment onto a child or someone can't communicate enough to consent, that's a problem. Especially when that "treatment" is dangerous and done in the name of "normalizing" your child.
I'm tired of hearing about murders or potential murders. I'm tired of murders being justified. I'm so, so tired. Please, make it stop. My life is not your tragedy and neither are the lives of my friends - "high" functioning, "low" functioning, whatever. Is it so damned impossible to comprehend that we might be happy with our lives?
I am happy. We need more services. It is not okay to hurt your children. There are aspects of disability that interfere with living a full life. We need acceptance. These statements are not mutually exclusive. Stop acting like they are.
Disability should not obstruct justice. Disability is not your get of jail free card. Period.