I was researching a topic for a piece I was writing about autism and special interests.
I typed into Google, “Using autism…” and stopped. Fixations? Obsessions? What word should I search.
As I pondered, I brought my gaze from my ceiling to my screen and saw Google had done an autofill.
“Using autism as an excuse”
I became slightly indignant.
I pressed the search button.
And there was an entire page of unfriendly titles.
I looked at the bottom of the page and found the following searches were chosen for me based on this search:
Searches related to using autism as an excuse
- autism or spoiled brat
- autism vs bad behavior
- autism is no excuse
- difference between spoiled and autism
- autistic kids are annoying
- sick of hearing about autism
- autism disrespectful behavior
Page 2 seemed to focus on parents. Parents allowing their kids to behave badly and using autism as an excuse to allow them to be bad parents. Or using the “autism card” to gain pity.
And the pages went on, and on, and on.
Yes, there were legitimate posts there as well, ie, “How do I stop my child from using autism as an excuse?” Did I see those? No. My feathers were ruffled as I focused on the negative ones.
With squinty eyes I started clicking here, clicking there. Saying an occasional, “WHAT?!?!?” when I read some of the posts.
I got up and walked around.
Then I personalized the messages I read. In my world, I know there is a list of people who do not believe in autism, do not believe autism exists in my family, that believe my husband and I are bad parents and/or do not support my family.
They became the faces of the people who authored the pages of posts I read.
And I thought, “Just one day. Just walk in my shoes one day. Discipline? Think you can discipline autism out of them?”
My mind went through the events we have been through, and I cried. How our lives changed.
Then, I thought of my kids.
What if I had never reached out for help? Where would they be right now? In 5 years? 10?
What if we continued to try to solve our problems with discipline. What if they grew up thinking they were bad kids. Constanly seen as a behavior issue. What would that do to them? How much frustration can one house hold? How much stress? How much yelling?
I don’t use autism as an excuse for bad behavior. Bad behavior is bad behavior. My husband and I are not bad parents. We are trying our best. My kids are not bad kids. They make mistakes, all kids do. We teach them from their mistakes. And they learn from them.
I recognize everyone walks a different road. This was the road laid out for us. And I love our road.
I look at the titles of the posts that got me upset. I realize, that in some cases, I can talk till I am blue in the face but my words will fall on deaf ears.
But that doesn’t shut me up.
I continue to speak up about autism and our experiences, hoping to help bring more light and understanding to autism. To be a part of the autism community as a voice and a safe place for discussion.
And hopefully, for those upsetting post titles to be replaced one day with something more positive.
Personally, I want the world to understand autism, to see my kids are not bad kids. Because each day I send them out into the world and the world needs to be ready to accept them.
For my kids, I will do everything to help them understand themselves, feel good about themselves. Find the right tools to succeed each day.
Because one day they will be adults, and they will go into the world without me by their side. And I will hope that the work I do today will have helped paved a road to help create a world that is more understanding of autism and ready to accept and include my family in it.