So, there’s this message board. I’ve been on it for over two years. And the most-frequented section of the board is for parents… but people with ASD have been offering their perspectives there since before I’ve been around. And for over two years, I felt accepted, even wanted there. Parents often asked for my help specifically, sent me private messages with questions, and many of thanked me. More than once now, I’ve even been told that I was the most helpful person (doctors, therapists, and teachers included) they’ve ever met regarding their child with autism.
Hey. That’s pretty cool.
And then, within the last month, a new parent snidely remarked that she didn’t really want my opinion and that this was a parents’ board and what was I doing there anyway?
I ignored it.
Then, a few days ago, a parent mentioned that her son had been eating GFCF, and that she tried one of his chicken nuggets and that she was surprised that it was good. I responded that I found it a bit unfair that she had been feeding him food that she hadn’t first tried, because some GFCF food can be, well, nasty. Someone came to her defense that of course parents don’t try their kids’ food. I apologized, saying that my mom always had so I thought it was the norm.
In another thread, the same parent adamently expressed her desire for her son to be cured. She even said she would trade her soul for a typical child. I said that it hurt my feelings to read such things, because it made me feel like I am causing stress for my mom or that I am somehow broken, when I know I’m not.
Oh, the flood gates opened.
Now, that parent and another parent (the same one that defended her in the above example) are saying that I don’t belong on the board. Now, there are doctors, researchers, grandparents, teachers, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, stepparents, and yes, people with ASD themselves on that board. It had never occured to me not to participate. Now three people have told me to take a hike, and I’m frustrated, confused, and a little bit offedened. To be fair, twelve or fifteen people have also asked me to please, please stay.
I checked with the mods, who said to ignore them and of course I’m welcome. They will not TELL the posters that I am welcome, but I am to just ignore them. I can try…
My point is this (okay, so my point was also to get the story off my chest): These are parents of kids with ASD telling someone who’s different to get lost. Do you see the irony? I mean, really? They accept all the “typical” non-parent-types, but when someone with ASD speaks out and it’s not what they want to hear, they attack me.
If this is how PARENTS of autistic kids treat people with autism, what can we expect from the general public? I am honestly afraid to interact with people now, because I don’t think it takes too long for people to realize that something’s different about me. I’m afraid to be seen with my staff. I’m afraid to go to church (did I mention that ALL THREE of the people who lashed out are Christians? Don’t even GET me started!).
I beg you, I implore you, to allow this story to force you to educate all the more. Please. I’m not going to fight back or try to get even or try to make right… I am going to ignore them and move on. But don’t let this be for naught; USE it. Teach, remind, help, rehearse, express, EDUCATE.
If need be, re-educate yourself. Next time you run into an adult that strikes you as odd, consider for a moment that once upon of time, they may have been your child. Someday, your child may be that adult. So, help me to pave the way for tomorrow’s adults, would you?
Educate. And, not to copy John, but be different. Please, for your kids, be different.