Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vanquish the Forces of Autism Nonsense

When I hear about yet another autism advocate taking a tragic event involving autism and twisting it to serve their own ideological goals, I get annoyed.  There is a time and a place for pushing your views on the world and then there is a time when you should not.

I would have thought it would be obvious, but if a child is dead because their mother killed them, that is not a good time to be pushing your views.  But since this is not the first time that an autism advocate has treated a child's murder as the perfect opportunity to push their agenda, maybe it isn't obvious.

So let me say this again.

You DO NOT use the murder of child to make an ideological point, sit around and basically say "I told you so", nor do you take the opportunity to label a completely unrelated party as "evil".  You just do not do that. Period.

This time (sad that I have to clarify that) I am talking about Shannon Des Roches Rosa's recent rant entitled "Vanquish the Force of Autism Evil! Declare Your Autism Pride" in which she places the blame for an infant's murder on the media and "autism organizations and websites like Age of Autism, Adventures in Autism, AnneDachel, and SafeMinds".

Harold Doherty already took Ms. Des Roches Rosa to task for her rant on Facing Autism in New Brunswick but I thought I might add my two cents worth as well.  You see, while Ms "Declare Your Autism Pride" was busy labeling a large segment of the autism community as "evil" and praising her own attempts to counter negative autism attitudes, she apparently forget to do some basic fact checking.

The incident in question involves a mother by the name of Stephanie Rochester who stands accused of smothering her 6 month-old son because she believed he had autism.  The case has received a good amount of media coverage, such as here, here, and here, so I won't talk about all of the little details of the case.  But the relevant facts of the case are as follows.

This suicidal mother thought that her 6 month old son was showing signs of autism.  She (presumably) knew what the signs of autism were because she "worked as a counselor at the Children's Hospital and had worked with autistic children".  She thought that a child with autism would "emotionally and financially ruin her life" and she didn't want to "burden her husband with a baby inflicted with autism".  So she decided that the rational thing to do would be to murder her own child before she (presumably) killed herself.

Not surprisingly, when this case went to trial, this woman was evaluated to see what her mental state was at the time of the murder.  She was found to be legally insane by both a psychiatrist hired by the defense and a state psychiatrist appointed by the court.  Some of the media articles have suggested that she might have been suffering from postpartum depression at the time of the murder as well.  It is expected that this woman will pled not guilty by reason of insanity and be committed to a mental hospital.

My heart goes out to the family as they lost not one but two family members to this senseless and possibly preventable tragedy.

However, Ms. Des Roches Rosa apparently has a different take on this tragedy.  She "squarely" blames the media and its "autism negativity and fear mongering" as well as "autism organizations and websites like Age of Autism, Adventures in Autism, AnneDachel, and SafeMinds, which have made unilateral demonization of autism their mission".

Never mind the fact that this woman worked for two years with families who have children with autism, she must have completely ignored her first hand experience and relied instead on what the media said about autism.  It couldn't be that she witnessed first hand what an autism diagnosis can do to a family, she must be a regular reader of those evil blogs that she mentioned.

Never mind the fact that this woman has been found by multiple professionals to be legally insane at the time of the murder, it must have been people trash talking autism that cased this murder.  I mean postpartum depression couldn't have had anything to do with the murder.  It couldn't have been that her fear was based on her actual experience with autism combined with mental health issues that caused the murder.

I don't know what it worse, taking advantage of a child's murder to push your agenda or taking advantage of a person with clear mental health issues to push your agenda.  I find both actions to be completely repugnant.

It is time to stop the nonsense in the autism world.  If Shannon Des Roches Rosa wants to be a postive force in the autim autism world then she needs to stop saying such utter bullshit like  -
It doesn't matter how much you love someone with autism -- if you continuously and publicly declare them damaged goods, you are hurting them. And their peers. And telling everyone else it is acceptable to hurt Autistics.
It is perfectly reasonable, rational, and generally OK for a parent to not like autism and say so publicly.  I love my children very much but I strongly dislike their autism because of what it does to them.  I don't think that autism is a fundamental part of who my children are, rather I think it is something that limits what they can do and puts unneeded obstacles in their way.  They would be better off if they did not have autism.

In Ms. Des Roches Rosa's book, saying so makes me a force of evil that needs to be vanquished.  In my book, it means that I am honest about the reality of my children's disability and my feelings towards it.  I believe that it is important for you to be honest with yourself if you want to have a good life in spite of the challenges that autism brings.

If anyone feels the need to "vanquish" me because of my "evil" views, bring it on.  Although you might want to look up what a "jabberwocky" is and have your Vorpal sword ready as I don't "fall to my knees" easily or give up without a fight.

But seriously, if you want to help new parents that are struggling with autism, the absolute last thing you should do is tell them that their fears of autism are somehow wrong.  You don't look at a person who is handed the enormity of an autism diagnosis and tell them that they are wrong to be afraid.

Instead you acknowledge that the way they feel is a legitimate way to feel when faced with autism.  You  then help them to deal with the fear and emotions that come with an autism diagnosis and help them accept the fact that their child isn't going to be what they expect.  You don't pretend that there is no bad and only talk about the supposed good (still waiting for that to appear).  That goes double or possibly triple if the parents in question have mental health issues of their own.

Murdering your own child is most certainly wrong, but so is blaming it on a group of people you don't like.

How do  advocates such as Shannon Des Roches Rosa expect us to take what they say about autism seriously when they can't show even basic compassion for mentally ill mother?

Practice what you preach or sit down and shut the hell up.


  1. Mothers murder children they believe to be defective all the time. It's a natural urge.

  2. Uhm, no, not really. That may happen in the animal kingdom but doesn't happen so much with people.

    It has been my experience that mothers whose children have disabilities are quite the opposite of what you are suggesting - they become more protective of their children.

  3. Mothers murder children they believe to be defective all the time, and society is largely forgiving of them. We're just primates and on some level we basically know it, regardless of whatever convenient lie is being pushed. If you think we aren't part of the animal kingdom you're kidding yourself.

  4. I agree 100%. Shannon is nothing but a divisive, mean spirited, clearly unhappy woman who clearly has issues since she condemns anyone who doesn't think JUST LIKE HER. The Diary of A Mom, Jessica Wilson, raves about Shannon in her posts today and yesterday. It is pointless trying to post any sort of rational comment there because she immediately deletes them. Only praise for her, her and her is permitted there. Anyhow, thanks for this. I find it amazing so many ignorant autism moms think Shannon wants to bring anyone together as Jessica Wilson (Diary Of A Mom) claims.

  5. I viewed a video of her. Let me say that I feel for Mr. Rosa for being married to such an ugly, bitter little troll.