I see it more and more: articles by, with or about autism mums. Mothers of children with autism. They talk about how difficult their lives are, how they had to readjust their expectations in life, how the system fails them and how they had to fight their own disappointments.
The real autistic
Often they’re angry, too. At the media, because how dare they portray a tech company where talented autistics work?! At autistic self-advocates, because “You’re so high-functioning you can do all this, MY kid can’t even make his own lunch!” It’s as if the “high-functioning” autistic isn’t a REAL autistic, or at least has less of a right to speak. But THEY have ALL the right to speak, because of their difficult, handicapped children. Or so they think.
Autism mums get a lot of room to talk. And you might think: yeah, but well, isn’t life actually hard for them? Sure. But please think about the one we’re forgetting, when we’re listening to “autism mum”. Right. Her “autism child”.
More than you think
It might be a bit more difficult for you, but try to identify with the kid for a second. How would you feel, if your mom got to fill a whole magazine page on how hard life is, because of you? You might say: well, these kids are severely autistic, they wouldn’t even notice. But you can’t be too sure about that. The development of an autistic’s abilities is usually asynchronous, which means that a child that doesn’t talk, doesn’t seem to communicate, might very well understand every word you say. There’s footage online of an “autism mum” talking about wanting to drive her car off a bridge, killing her autistic kid and herself. She tells she eventually decided not to, because she had another, non-autistic kid to care for. During the interview, the autistic kid is playing in the room.
And even if the child doesn’t notice – what about all the other children with autism. What about the other parents, that get strengthened in their victimhood. Parents that, instead of accepting their autistic children, keep searching for “solutions”. Solutions that might bother the children (experimental therapies, extreme diets) or straight out hurt them.
Look, I get that you’re disappointed. That this life is tougher than you imagined. Please talk about that with a therapist – without your kid present in the room. But please, don’t sell your child out in the media, for the sake of your own personal pity party. You may have forgotten, but children with disabilities are people. People that had to give up huge parts of their autonomy already, because they’re dependant on care. Autism is not YOUR identity; it’s (part of) theirs. A child with autism isn’t a burden in the story called Your Life. It’s a human being.