Why parenting matters

2012-03-01 01:07

Having an autistic child wrecks your life, says a writer whose column on the Daily Mail is apparently “no longer accepting comments”.

Hard to say why. I mean, surely, there’s nothing wrong with an article in which a severe case of a disability is used as the categorical definition of every case ever of that disability. I mean, if someone said that we should test for a predisposition to depression, and preemptively abort all children with that predisposition, to spare the heartache of teen sucide, surely no one would object to that. And if I were to have some random person with no qualifications, no relevant experience, and a bone to pick with the world write an article advocating the elimination of an entire category of the human population, I would assume that I’d get only positive and constructive comments. (Trivia point: Autistics can learn to use sarcasm. NEAT, HUH?)

Part of the problem here is… well. Let’s look at a quote:

All three generations set off in a bold attempt at a holiday over Christmas. Not a resort, bustling with strangers; quite impossible. But a rented house, just the five of them, to let Tom feel the warm sun on his face. Well, it was a nice thought.

No, no it wasn’t. It was a stupid thought. It was “here is a thing I would like, I will impose it on my child without thinking about what his preferences are like”. And that kind of thing can easily turn a manageable problem into an unmanageable problem.

If people had persisted in ignoring my “special” needs when I was younger, I might have come out a lot more broken than I am. Instead, I got lucky; I got parents who were inclined to take me at my word and respect my preferences and needs, and the result is that I came out a lot healthier and happier. And more able to cope than I might otherwise have been.

I can only hope that the author of this story is never exposed to the harrowing experience of raising a non-autistic child. Why, I understand that from twelve to nineteen, they are frequently irrational! They will have problems, and choose to give only oblique hints rather than direct statements of what is bothering them. Needless to say, it’s impossible for parents to live through this onslaught. It’s sort of scary to me to see people who are so utterly wedded to the uniformity of the species that they simply can’t conceive of treating different people differently. And can’t imagine that treating a child in a way you know the child hates is likely to make things worse.

Yes, having a more-severely autistic child is worse than a less-severe one. However, when you show me parents who worried that the MMR vaccine might have been a contributor, you are showing me parents who have not made a reasonable effort to learn what they are dealing with and how to handle it. Education would help a lot more here than eugenics.

If you think having an autistic child wrecks your life, consider how much worse it is to have parents who refuse to learn what their child is actually like, and persist in trying to mold their child into something they wanted rather than what they got. That wrecks your life and all the lives around you.

DISCLAIMER: It is entirely possible that the writer of the article is misrepresenting the parents.

Peter Seebach

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Comment

  1. It’s a useful heuristic just to assume that everything in the “Daily Mail” is either an outright lie, or a truth with so much spin on it you can barely see it. And always, always, slanted in a direction designed to cause hate and fear, and stereotyping, and black-and-white thinking.

    This newspaper is on a crusade to make its readers stupider and nastier.

    One topic of this article happens to be the question of whether foetuses likely to be autistic should be aborted. They have probably also published articles painting everyone who has had an abortion ever as an evil baby-killer. What you are vanishingly unlikely ever to see in the “Mail” is an article on the topic that refrains from painting any large group of people (autistic people, women who have abortions, …) as a subhuman horror. Because picking a large group of people and making them The Enemy is what the Daily Mail does. (That, and fearmongering about cancer and diseases and genetically modified foods and vaccination. But they enjoy fearmongering about immigration and gay marriage and transsexualism and state benefits fraud even more.)

    g · 2012-03-01 03:12 · #

  2. Possible, but unfortunately unlikely.

    That vacation story would have to have a pretty amazing set of circumstances for it to be at all rational for those parents to choose to do.

    I’m doubtful.

    Unfortunately, the story as presented is completely unverifiable.

    On the other hand, the author of that article appears to be a rather spastic and damaged individual based on her other articles. So maybe she imagined or misunderstood most or all of it.

    — Amy · 2012-03-01 09:58 · #

  3. Autism Speaks has been foisting that article and similar horror stories on unsuspecting news organizations for years, including a pseudo documentary where they put a severely autistic child into a studio disguised as a livingroom, complete with a whole film crew, and then ask why would he have a meltdown (the viewer is led to believe that the kid is at home with just his family).
    Sensationalism sells their eugenics program.

    Lissa · 2012-03-01 10:06 · #

 
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