But what I don't understand are those who feel it is acceptable to question a parent's motives or love for their child. Especially when it comes from those people who claim to be all about acceptance of differences.
Take for example what Harold Doherty wrote recently about how he does care for his child. I don't know the circumstances of why he wrote what he did, but if you follow what he writes on his site, you would have no doubt that he is very committed to his child and cares deeply for him. He should not have to defend himself against attacks that suggest that he doesn't care for his child. And yet some person felt that they had the right to question that.
Or take the recent incident involving a post at Age of Autism that was written by Kim Stagliano. Ms. Stagliano put up a picture of one of her daughters and suggested that it would be a more appropriate image of autism for Autism Speaks to use. In this picture, her 15 year old daughter is standing in the infant toy aisle at Target and is transfixed by the toys. It shows, in the words of Ms. Stagliano, "the pain of a stopped clock".
I think every parent out there whose child struggles with autism understands exactly what Ms. Stagliano meant by her statement. We understand all to well the pain, the struggles, and the battles we have to fight in order to help our children overcome their disorder. We have to push our children to work twice as hard as other children in the hopes that they will be able get a tenth as far.
The reason that we do is that we love our children very much and want the best for them. We take joy in who they are and what they have managed to accomplish in spite of being limited by autism. But sometimes, in spite of it all, our children do not manage to overcome autism and are, as Ms Stagliano said, stuck in time.
I firmly believe that almost every parent out there understands this idea and felt that way on at least several occasions. If they say that they haven't then they are deceiving either you or themselves.
But then there are those who argue for "acceptance", such as Alan Griswold, who take exception to what Ms. Stagliano had to say. I would not have had a problem if Mr. Griswold respectfully disagreed with Ms. Stagliano. And actually, I wouldn't have had a problem if Mr. Griswold less than respectfully disagreed. But he went much further than that when he not only disagreed but also insulted Ms. Stagliano and her daughter in his response. Below are the main points of his post -
... would make an excellent choice for an Autism Speaks advertisement. All the essential ingredients are there:
A picture of a beautiful autistic child engaged in an interesting, meaningful and no doubt productive activity for her—clearly delighted to no end.
A hovering, disapproving parent describing the entire tableau as “pain,” bemoaning the family's autism fate to the entire world, and wishing for someone—anyone—to do something—anything—to bring this horrible ordeal to an end.He finished by saying -
Now if we could only get Autism Speaks to sponsor some form of cure against the Ms. Staglianos of the world ... I might find myself supporting that organization's eradicating mission.I had prepared some clever retorts to Mr. Griswold's statements, many of them involving profanity, but after thinking about it, I believe a more direct approach is appropriate.
First, perseverating on infant toys is not a productive or meaningful activity for a 15 year old. To suggest that this is the case is both demeaning to her abilities and an insult to the person that she is. Mr. Griswold looked at the picture and made a judgement that obsessing over toys that most of the world's population outgrows by the time that they are two is a meaningful activity for her. I can't believe that someone who talks of acceptance and diversity and tolerance would degrade a young adult like that.
Second, if Mr. Griswold actually took his head out of his ass and took the time to understand what it is like to see your child have to struggle so much and how much we wish we could spare them their suffering, then he would not be able to say such things. We don't attempt to treat our children's autism because we feel that they are defective or a burden but rather because we care for them and want the best possible life for them.
Lastly, as for the suggestion that Ms. Stagliano needs some sort of "cure" or to be "eradicated", well, if you think a mother's compassion and caring needs to be eradicated, then you really do have a problem.
In the end, I think we need less acceptance and more compassion. Autism is hard to deal with for everybody involved, regardless of whether you are a parent or the person living with autism.
But most of all, I think we need a cure for the "acceptance" of people like Alan Griswold.