Saturday, July 15, 2006

An alternate view of Autism Every Day

There has been a great deal of controversy in recent months regarding the video released by Autism Speaks, titled Autism Every Day. This week saw the release of an article written by Jennifer Liss of WireTap which includes an interview with the filmmaker, Lauren Thierry, which is nicely deconstructed by Kevin Leitch on Left Brain/Right Brain. In the interview, Thierry defends the controversial comment made in Autism Every Day by Alison Tepper Singer, the mother of an autistic child, who says that she would have driven herself and her autistic child off a bridge had it not been for her neurotypical child, who needed her. The article quotes Thierry this way:

"If most mothers of autistic children, Thierry responds, look hard enough within themselves they will find that they have played out a similar scenario in their minds. 'If this is not your reality, then God bless you,' she says."

I am absolutely horrified.

I have been the mother of an autistic child for almost seven years. I have never once, not for a single, fleeting, fraction of a moment, thought about harming either him or myself. If I ever do experience such a thought - even if it is a brief flash of a half-thought - if the idea of doing harm to Bud or to myself in any way enters my mind - I will pick up the phone instantly, and I will get help. I will book an appointment with a counselor. I will acknowledge that something is wrong, and that thinking about hurting a child - ANY child - is a sign that a person can no longer manage on her own. I will not write it off as just the sort of thing that happens when you're living with Autism Every Day.

Let me be clear. I do not take issue with Ms. Singer's statement, which I imagine was a hard and painful personal truth - though I do question the wisdom of revealing it in the presence of her child. I do, however, take issue with the extrapolation of the director, Ms. Thierry, who universalizes Singer's personal truth and paints it as the rule and not the exception.

Ms. Thierry's comment is not just inaccurate and offensive; it's also reckless, irresponsible, and dangerous. If an autism mother so desperate as to have homicidal and/or suicidal thoughts were to read it, she would see her deepest fears realized in its message: your desperation is born of autism; it is part of the package; we all feel it; it will never get better. I would imagine that this sort of bleak perspective on the future might make a desperate person take otherwise unthinkable action. I am not being dramatic here. Sometimes it happens. And then it happens again.

Some autism bloggers, among them Kev and Ballastexistenz, have suggested that Ms. Thierry deliberately staged the interviews she did with the mothers who appear in Autism Every Day so that their lives would appear as bleak and hopeless as possible. The article reports:

"Thierry told her subjects not to do their hair, vacuum or bring in the therapists. She showed up with her crew at their homes sight unseen and kept the cameras rolling as a mom literally wrestled with her son to get him to brush his teeth, as a 9-year-old had a public meltdown, as a 5-year-old had his diaper changed. And, as moms revealed dark and uncomfortable truths about living with autism. The result is a window into an exhausting world of interminable work."

In other words, let's take everything we know about what will help a child with autism to be well-regulated, and then let's do the opposite. Had Ms. Thierry filmed us, Bud would have been dysregulated by the very presence of strangers in our house without warning - never mind the video cameras, or my being in the room with him but giving my full attention to someone else, and saying things that were making me distressed. And if I were saying in front of him that HE was what made me distressed? I can't begin to imagine how that would affect him.

So I encourage Ms. Thierry to film a sequel, using hidden cameras, and I volunteer to appear in it. She can follow us around on a typical day as long as she agrees that in the editing she will show the whole day, and not just the worst bits. Yesterday was a pretty typical Mom-and-Bud day; it would have been the perfect day for her to film. She'd have gotten the footage she was after: me bleary-eyed after waking up much earlier than I'd hoped, a few battles of wills, some difficult transitions, a bathroom accident or two.

She'd have gotten some beautiful footage as well: Bud and me at the lake, holding hands and counting "one-two-three," then him diving under and surfacing, his eyes glued to mine waiting for me to ask if he was okay; Bud sitting nose-to-antenna with a beautiful yellow butterfly; Bud lounging in his beach chair, singing and eating an ice cream cone and getting more ice cream on his face than in his belly; Bud and me burying each other in the sand and giggling, then me building a sand castle as Bud looked for rocks to play the roles of King, Queen, Knight, Dragon, Princess and Bud; Bud and me making up a song to the tune of the musical meadow instrumental from his Reader Rabbit game; Bud smashing water balloons on the driveway - first against the garage door, then by throwing them up in the air, then by tossing them two at a time, each new smash a little different from the last as Bud continued to discover that sometimes new is even better than familiar; Bud and me cuddling up at bedtime, as through heavy lids he smiled at me and told me it had been an easy day.

You see, around here, this is autism every day. There are challenges, there are difficulties, there are struggles. But at the end of the day, when the tallies are totalled, there is more joy, there is more beauty, there is more love. Even with autism. Every day.

My hair is not done. My house is not vacuumed. There are no therapists in sight.

We're ready for our close-up, Ms. Thierry.

48 comments:

Tara said...

After seeing the film I came away feeling grateful for Littleman and sorry that these moms could only confirm for the world what a burden their children are. I saw no evidence of the gifts these children bring, or the joy. If the film serves to validate these families pain and they are finally embraced by a community that can offer some hope and help, then I can live with that. It certainly does not reflect my reality.

Kristina Chew said...

Thanks for this thoughtful analysis---and your loving account of "every day with Bud."

hollywoodjaded said...

Simply Beautiful!

Kev said...

Great post :o)

Bonnie Ventura said...

I share your disgust with Thierry, and needless to say, there's no chance you'll get any response from her.

If you have a camcorder and want to show a realistic picture of autism and daily life, you may be interested in the Autistic Video project. Amy Nelson at Aspies for Freedom is collecting short video clips to post on the site.

Big Orange said...

oooh, skarry. Yeah, I've had fleeting thoughts at 3 AM when Solenbum is literally screaming with joyous laughter-- I've wanted to bop him a good one but instead, take a deep breath and go downstairs to put on a movie.

I guess a well-balanced approach of BOTH hard moments and joyful moments wouldn't have been as interesting. Call it SPIIINNN....

Sharon said...

I love the description of your day. That resonates with me, while the idea of secretly harbouring thoughts of murder, is alien and horrible.

ankeny said...

Brava!!! Your description is so beautiful, I don't think I even need to see the video. You and Bud are gifts to each other.

Mamaroo said...

I am horrified by Thierry's comment. I can say that I have NEVER had any of those horrible thoughts and wish she wouldn't try to "speak" for all of us who are living with someone with autism everyday.

kyra said...

RIGHT ON, MOM-NOS!!!!! you said it, sister! i do NOT relate at all to this chick's irresponsible and frightening generalizations. phew. and i absolutely CANNOT STAND to hear or see people talk about their kids in disturbing and negative ways in front of them. it should NEVER BE DONE in my opinion. NEVER. assumptions of value, respect, and ability should ALWAYS be made. EVERY TIME.

about the families in that video, i would say, get MORE SUPPORT IN and camera crews OUT. ease the stress, don't add to it.

Mike McCarron said...

I thought your aticle was just outstanding. After all I see and hear this was a breath of fresh air.

Kristina Chew said...

Mom-NOS, I wanted to piggy-back on your offer of inviting Ms. Thierry to come into your household with the camera rolling----I invite her into ours, too, any, and every, day.

Shawn said...

MOM-NOS. The mother's comment about driving off the bridge was the most troubling part of the video for me.

You have the right perspective. When you hit that point, you get help. I hope the mother has, for her sake and for her children.

I've had high moments and low moments as a parent of both NT and autistic children. I know that the low moments are not about them, but rather a reflecton of my own capabilities at that particular time. Blaming anyone else for our own emotional challenges is dangerous.

neil said...

It seems to me that people vary in their attitudes to children with autism. Some seem only able to see the disorder, while others only see the child. So while I identify strongly with you, my wife would not. We have a six year old girl with autism, who in the scheme of things doesn't seem too bad to me, but my wife seems to see her completely differently, enough to comment four weeks ago that she wished we had a different daughter. I don't, I love the one we've got. I hasten to add that my wife does love her too.

You appear to be coping well with it and I feel that I do too. I organize play days for my daughter, with friends from her autistic school and even look after another autistic boy that was suspended by his autistic school for being, well, too autistic. Not everyone copes the same and sometimes people are not even aware they're not coping.

I haven't seen the film, but it sounds raw. Maybe while it's contentious, some good will come of it. I would certainly show it to my sister-in-law, who my wife is close to. I rang after my wifes comments and asked her to have a chat to her sister. She initially told me that she was too busy, but after I pressured her she agreed to do it. A month later, still no call

Anonymous said...

"But at the end of the day, when the tallies are totalled, there is more joy, there is more beauty, there is more love."

Beautifully said. I'll take that hidden video challenge too. Any day.

Though I will make this true confession of a harried mom--I have often fantasized about selling the boys on ebay, or mailing them in a big container to antarctica or maybe New Zealand. No wait--maybe *I* could mail myself to New Zealand.

I'm making light here, but the truth is even in my darkest hours, as a new mom, and at my most stressed (before I knew was AS was and that my older son and I shared it), killing my child(ren) was never in the picture.

There were dark times, again, before AS entered our vocabulary, when I wanted to take my own life, because I felt a failure as a mother. Learning about AS and who we were changed all that.

www.aspies.blogspot.com

Christine said...

OK, I am going to risk being in the minority here and maybe I will get bashed in the process but here goes: I feel sorry for that mother and I think it is an indictment of our society that she got to the point where she felt such hopeless despair. Rather than shooting arrows at her and at this film I wish more effort were put into recognizing that not enough is being done to help support autistic children AND their families. Because there is no denying that we -- parents and children -- are a symbiotic unit. And some of us have the tools to deal with high levels of stress and others of us don't. I'm not sure how many parallels I could draw but I often think about the issue of postpartum depression and how much acceptance and support it has gotten of late -- because people have started talking about it. Talking about PPD doesn't condone potentially harmful actions on the part of a new mother but it does help women to feel less isolated and to know that help is available. And to not feel shame for needing help.

I know this film only tells part of the story, and maybe there IS a lot to criticize but I hope it will serve as a catalyst for a broader dialog of how autism impacts children, families and communities and the kind of supports that each need.

Lisa Jean Collins said...

There was another part that got under my skin, and I really hope I am remembering this correctly. At the end, after confessing that she didn't kill her autistic daughter because of her NT daughter, she told her daughter to day "I love you, mommy." Then Thierry said, "I'll take that." She didn't say, "I love you, too." She just "took."

There is a certain level of narcissism in these moms: Needing to cultivate sympathy in a very public way, rationalizing this need by claiming that it is helping others, creating artificial scenarios to further their own causes, refusing to take a balanced view and show anything that contradicts their assertions, talking about their children in front of them as though they were just objects in the room, taking but not reciprocating...The whole Autism Speaks organization seems like a narcissism fest to me.

Anonymous said...

Lisa Jean Collins - thanks very much for bringing up the issue of narcissism you noticed in the moms in the video.

I raised this issue on another blog when the news of the video first hit the blogosphere; I commented on someone else's blog mid-May with the following:

"Wait. Wasn't this PSA/video about mothers affected with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder)? Because that's what it looked like to me."

But that blogger deleted my post - as was his right, but I was mystified as to why and even further confused, was I, when the blogger took me to task for being "offensive."

I really agree with your assessment of the "narcissism fest" in terms of the whole of the organization of Autism Speaks.

Also, I too really noticed the: "I'll take that" comment and the lack of emotional reciprocation on the part of the mother (Alison Tepper Singer), it really struck me and saddened me.

ankeny said...

I have always thought the mercury militia's chief complaint about their kids seemed to be that they didn't show affection to the parents. They make a big to-do about the physical symptoms when provoked, but when they're just chatting, it's all "she doesn't care more about me than a stranger on the street" and "I do all this and never get anything back." You may be on to something with the narcissism.

Anonymous said...

Greetings MOM-NOS and company!

I always enjoy your blog and think Bud is one of the greatest...as are all of our little ones.

As far as Thierry's comments - and her movie, I think the thing to remember is that it was a PSA created, initially, to be shown as a fundraising tool, and therefore would need to make things look pretty dire.

But I agree - there needs to be something done that shows the BEAUTIFUL JOY each of our children bring - and that it isn't the awful train wreck most often depicted

ballastexistenz said...

Exactly. It was a fundraising tool, as several people have pointed out.

Fundraising tools to "help" a certain kind of person should not dehumanize that kind of person. That film dehumanized autistic people in the extreme. It has already been used to excuse a murder. If that's the "public discussion" people are talking about, I can do without it. Hate propaganda isn't "necessarily discussion".

ballastexistenz said...

"necessarily discussion" -> "necessary discussion"

Anonymous said...

One thing that motherhood (particularly mother to an autistic child)has taught me is not to judge other moms. Let us remember that just because we are all dealing with autism, we are not all alike. Our children experience autism is varying degrees. Our personal issues, family situations, etc. are all different. While this video does not represent MY "autism every day", I can respect the fact that for some, this is what their lives really look like. I feel sorry for them. These are not horrible mothers who are harming their children. They are moms who are fighting for their kids all day, every day. Maybe we should be reaching out to help, not condemning them. And let's remember how fortunate we are to be able to see all of the joy and love our children can bring us. I am sad for these moms who cannot.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with your disgust.

I think people that can go around and say things like in this movie are even more dangerous than any autistic child ever will be.

If it were for people like Thierry, they'd be euthanising disabled people just like in WWII.

Julia said...

I have seen first-hand how messed up a kid can get, having been told repeatedly that the pregnancy & birth were really bad on his mom, almost killed her, and if they'd had it to do over again, he wouldn't exist.

I think that the "oh, yeah, I thought about killing myself and her" in the kid's presence is at LEAST as bad.

And you can DECIDE to have a more positive attitude about things. The people in the video seemed to be wallowing in hopelessness. You can CHOOSE not to do that. It can be difficult, but it's possible.

Anonymous said...

My experience was very similar to Anonymous', in that before I knew my son was autistic, I was extremely depressed (PPD) and thought I was a total loser because I couldn't get my child to stop screaming or smile at me. It was only after therapy, and some meds, and time, that I began to get a grip and start connecting with my son. We got the diagnosis last year and frankly I think it's made me not only a better parent, but a better person overall - more patient, more knowledgeable, more willing to find ways to be silly and have fun with my two boys. Yes, I sometimes worry about my son's future, but when you get right down to it, you can't garantee any child's future, be that child typical or not. Life is a gift and it's a gift that keeps on giving. Autism is not the end of the world, it's a great big window that lets you step out of the box and every day is different. Also, life with typical kids can make you want to mail yourself to New Zealand too (as I'm finding out with my younger, typical son - can I join you, Mom?)

Hugs...

Shelby said...

I'm sickened by the way that the "Experts" try to piant us with one broad brush. Was it really neccecary to show footage of an Autistic 5 year old having a Diaper Change? I hpoe that boy finds the Video or the DVD Recording in 5 to 10 years time and confronts his Mother about it. I'm on the Spectrum and I can tell you that it can be a very lonely feeling, sometimes. I have Obsessions. Nobody understands them. I'm the one in my Family who has an unusual Accent and my Parents wanted me to get rid of it, one summer but their "Wish" never came true (I'm happy about that) I was born in Canada: I feel British. I was born on Earth: I feel like an Alien. All of these feelings are what makes me the strong Individual that I am, today.

Father of an Autistic child said...

I personally haven't seen the film yet, but being that I first learned of it on Good Morning America, I had to second guess whether or not it was a propaganda piece for lobbies representing various foundations- you know the outfits that raise a whole bunch of money for a "cause" but every day people rarely realize a significant increase in the access to resources. Based on some of your comments, I have to believe that to be the case. I am a FATHER of an Autistic son, and I frequently pound the web looking for insights and testimonials that can point us in the right direction to help him. I have to say too, that I do not share the reported sentiments of the docu-ganda piece. I have frustrating days with him like any other parent wrestling with this disorder- but not once has the thought entered my mind about harming myself or my son( my wife, maybe ;0) ). He has been a blessing to me despite his difficulties, and I believe that he has made me a better parent than I otherwise would have been. I would love to hear from any of you about any additional sites or forums that fosters the healthy exchange of information to help us all heal our children.

At the risk of sounding redundant to many of you, I would like to share with you two sites I recently discovered that I found to have been very insightful, from the standpoint of additional therapies as well as dietary ideas that have helped other children. One site is generationrescue.org, a site that has various parent testimonials, thought-provoking articles and other info from medical professionals and columnists. The other one is evenbetternow.com, a site that not only deals with supplemental approaches to tackle Autism Spectrum Disorders but they also introduce other products that help people in general deal with environmental elements that contribute to a myriad of other disorders and disease.

Please feel free to share with me some of your insights- my email is mailtlofton@bellsouth.net. Godspeed to you all.

Terrence L.
Charlotte, N. Carolina

Anonymous said...

other Anonymous said...
Our personal issues, family situations, etc. are all different. While this video does not represent MY "autism every day", I can respect the fact that for some, this is what their lives really look like...Maybe we should be reaching out to help, not condemning them.


Here, Here!!!

I haven't seen the documentary in question, but I recognize it as fundraising propaganda. Even so, I think it's worth pointing out that many of the feelings and circumstances that are apparently portrayed DO happen, and ARE real.

I'm not sure if anonymous was referring to Thierry or to the documentary in general. I don't want to imply that the previous poster was saying something he wasn't. I, however, want to talk about Thierry specifically. Quite honestly, it was brave of Thierry to share feelings that were sure to lead to public scorn, something many of you are more than willing to heap upon her. Many of you can't relate to the idea of hurting your child. Congratulations. Unfortunately I can. I would guess that such thoughts are far more common that you might think (then again I don't really know). I chose to seek counseling before I went through with anything I had been considering. I went through months of therapy.

If anyone reading this is struggling with such thoughts, please know that other people have faced similar struggles. You're not alone. With help, you can learn to be happy even with the extra load you've got on your shoulders. Please tell someone about your feelings.

I completely understand feeling disgusted with what Thierry considered, but a reaction of public condemnation actually contributes to the problem instead of helping. While empathy may feel like you are condoning what she considered, in a real-world situation empathy may be exactly what convinces someone to seek help instead of carrying out an act of violence. An atmosphere of ridicule and condemnation only encourages an emotionally unstable individual to remain in his isolation. In my opinion even relatively impersonal forums like blog comments can make a difference.

If Thierry suffers from some condition such as perhaps narcissism, does that really make her more worthy of scorn? After all, we don't blame our kids for being autistic. Is a parent of an autistic child no longer eligible for our emotional support if she also suffers from an emotional or neurological condition herself?

Apparently the documentary doesn't show any of the joy we get from our children, autistic or not. I agree, that's unfortunate.

Joker The Lurcher said...

i didn't see this film and i'm glad i didn't! my son is 12 and there has never been a day when i wished him any other way, even during the very tough times when he was younger. if there was a cure for autism i would tell them to stuff it. my son is way more fun and more loving and more special than any "normal" 12 year old!

Anonymous said...

Yes, a film about the hardships of rainy days should show nothing but sunny ones. You seem to have missed a simple point. This film isn't meant to highlight the fact that children are a blessing in life because we should know that without question and without being reminded. What the film does show are the things that have been taken from these children as a result of something that shouldn't exist. The average public is not going to be moved to action by pictures of happy people living problem free lives. Your child is wonderful, joyful, and a blessing to the whole world, as are all children. That isn't the part that needs help.

ulyyf said...

A film about the hardships of rainy days should show *accurate* rainy days.

Rain brings flowers, and crops, and rainbows.

Clouds erase shadows and make the world soft.

Fog and mist make the world a mystery.

Thunder and lightening are the world's best and cheapest entertainment. Thrills and chills, folks!

Colors seem brighter in drizzle - clear and neat, instead of dulled by the constant sunshine.

Who hasn't enjoyed splashing in puddles, or standing with their tongues out to catch raindrops? How can you say that the only part of the rainy day that's worth talking about is the part where your shoes get wet and your hair frizzes?

Sunny days have their virtue too, but also their faults, which are separate from the faults of rainy days. But I do prefer the rainy ones - even outside the bounds of this analogy, and even considering how much I hatehateHATE walking in wet shoes.

kristina said...

Autismland commadre, I just read the new post but what I just posted myself seems fitting for here, and so----on the sour, salty, with bitter on the side, sweet of like in Autismland:

Proteus in Autismland.

Laurie said...

I just saw this film for the first time this evening as part of the Sundance Film Festival.

I have an 18 year old son with autism. My son is high-functioning and has an easygoing personality; I've often considered my good fortune that this is the case. Many families have far more trying circumstances.

I cannot judge people who lead different lives. I cannot judge these parents when, clearly, they honestly, and sometimes with shame apparent in their faces, put their hearts on the line.

Many years ago, a child with autism in our community died in a much publicized accident. While I understood, as a parent, the grief his parents were feeling, I also recognized that I would have been experiencing another emotion. In my heart of hearts, I knew that in some small way I would have been relieved. This relief--that I would no longer have to worry about who would care for my child if I were gone, would have also come with enormous guilt. But the relief would have been there, nonetheless.

Ettina said...

"Yes, a film about the hardships of rainy days should show nothing but sunny ones. You seem to have missed a simple point. This film isn't meant to highlight the fact that children are a blessing in life because we should know that without question and without being reminded."

Not with autistic kids. With autistics there is much more focus on the problems than the benefits. (And any and every problem is blamed on the disability. I know one person who described growing up with a verbally abusive father who was probably abused by his father and with some Fragile X siblings - who clearly inherited it from their mother, since X-linked conditions aren't transmitted from father to son - and then said his family was 'ruined by FX' - as if his father being emotionally disturbed had anything at all to do with FX?)

"What the film does show are the things that have been taken from these children as a result of something that shouldn't exist."

What was taken from those children was true parental love - and it was not taken by autism, but by our prejudiced society. Autistic people, when treated properly, are no more unhappy than non-autistics. And even in conditions where there is a true and specific deficit, such as deafness, it only 'something taken from them' if it is acquired. If you never had it, you don't miss it unless you're treated like an inferior person for it.

"The average public is not going to be moved to action by pictures of happy people living problem free lives. Your child is wonderful, joyful, and a blessing to the whole world, as are all children. That isn't the part that needs help."

I don't want the kind of 'action' that movies like that encourage. I don't want people giving money to 'help find a cure for those poor defectives'. You should read what people with muscular dystrophy (which is, by the way, fatal, unlike autism) have said about the muscular dystrophy telethons. Here's a link:
http://www.raggededgemagazine.com/archive/jerry92.htm
They have a quote:
"The very human desire for cures . . . can never justify a television show that reinforces a stigma against disabled people."
And that's if you want a cure. I don't want to be cured of autism. I don't want my autistic friends to be cured. I hav e a 10 year old friend who is autistic and can't talk and wears diapers, and I don't want him to be cured. I'd like him to learn to communicate better, but autism is essential to who he is, and a big part of what I love about him. He wouldn't be the wonderful boy I know and love if he wasn't autistic. He'd still be a great kid, but a very different kid.

Annerose said...

These comments have been invaluable to me as is this whole site. I thank you for your comment.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about homicide, but I've seen research that indicates that having relatively fleeting suicidal thoughts is fairly common. Many people have these thoughts without any real intent or suicidal risk.

This of course does not justify talking about homicidal wishes towards someone who is entirely at your mercy as though they were the natural consequence of your child's autism.

nicci said...

i am almost speechless,i think people on the outside see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear,a form of their own autism i suppose.i have 6 children ages 18,18,15,6,5,and 1.my 6 yr old was diagnosed at 3 and my 1 yr old is in the process of early intervention.im in the middle of a crummy divorce and starting things over in my life yet i dont feel like if things were different maybe if my 2 sons were normal my life would be so much better,my life is so much better because i was given them into my life.furthermore i dont feel like its unbearable,my 18 ye olds and 15 yr old now ,lol,yeah sometimes i wanna really pull my hair out but in general i dunno my life is my life i dont think its any harder or easier than most.
nicci mom of 6 ridgecrest,ca
email-- cbzangels@yahoo.com

Kathleen said...

My 7 year old son is moderate on the spectrum--very few verbals, some self-injury with many self-stims. It's not easy. Not that parenting really is. I also have 2 other kids. However, some of my friends I have made in the autism world face much greater difficulties. Their children bite and hit them to hurt. Some kids spread or eat feces. Others never sleep.

We love our children no doubt. We live for the incredible moments--a hug, meaningful eye contact. Last night we took our son to his first concert...watching him dance. Unforgettable.

But I also think it is important for the outside world to know that many of the behaviors our children exhibit are out of their--and our--control. The community should show more tolerance and understanding for people with autism and their families.

Purple Thundering Silence said...

It is a sheer tragedy that the "people" in this film do not love, adore, and cherish their children as you do your's.

I've seen scenes, such as you mentioned on another documentary. A mother in the front seat speaking about her happy, loving daughter singing in the back. The woman says straight-out that she would have aborted.

I cried, and thought to myself, "Woman you should have! You don't deserve that precious gift: your loving, child. If you cannot see what you have been given then you're right --- You shoudn't have had her!

This child, a gift from the Goddess, should have gone onto another. Another woman who would see that girl, raise her to adulthood, and love every moment --- even the ones that will almost break her heart & soul.

A woman such as that is who should be raising your daughter; not one such as you with your selfish, thoughtless words!"

I could just hear the response I would get, "My daughter can't understand me!"

I'd counter: "That's what makes your words in front of her even more disgusting! What kind of woman would speak such things? Only somebody heartless, and cruel!"

Sadly I understand that it wouldn't matter what I'd say. People like that just will not, they choose not to listen.

Before when I read about Kathrine McCarron's murder, I shook. In anger, in horror, enraged. Now I can only cry.

Such things can do nothing, but cause my heart to break. Even if I live a thousand years I will never understand such people.

You though. I understand. You are what it means to be a mother. If I am ever Blessed with children, I pray that I am able to be like you.

Then my child will have the best life has to offer.

Anonymous said...

hello everyone hope your day is blessed as your child i love spending time with my autistic child she teaches my husband, me and her brother a whole lot she is my pride and joy i love her dearly i just wish that in youngstown, ohio there were more things for these children there is hardly no hope in little youngstown please keep us in your prayers God is in the working business and i know he is working it out for us......

sincerly yours, Theresa C. Douglas

Anonymous said...

Are you people for real? Never had a thought? Never looked down that bleak road? How do you control your minds that way? I am mother to a wonderful, 14 year old autistic son who I accept and cherish. And I am a mom who has had suicidal thoughts, and been over the years plagued by guilt and blame and envy and pettiness and jealousy. There have been days I could have killed my spouse or myself. And that, is real.

Anonymous said...

I'm a person on the Autistic spectrum. In a way, I can relate to these parents. A few years ago, a child (who was not even my own) was left full time in my care. I was overwhelmed and ashamed of my ineptitude. I seriously considered suicide. What stopped me was that very same child. I was afraid she would blame herself. I NEVER had thoughts of harming her. I don't condemn what this woman felt. I'm horrified and heartbroken by what she said aloud. That's an act she followed through with. It's an act that can never be undone. Autistics comprehend far more than they're able to express, and this was obviously a verbal child. She understood.

Thank you so much for writing this blog entry! It's restored my faith in people. I'm truly, truly grateful.

Sarah

Anonymous said...

After 8 years of autism: "What is the beach?"

My point: there are different severities of autism. People are going through very different things. Some parents can only dream of the type of day you had with your son.

MOM-NOS said...

Anonymous, I hear you, 100%. When it comes to autism, I try to speak from my own experience and own it as my own experience. I only ask that others do the same. In my opinion, we get into dangerous territory when we start to suggest that our own experience is somehow universal - i.e., "If most mothers of autistic children look hard enough within themselves they will find that they have played out a similar scenario (of driving off a bridge with their child) in their minds."

My best to you and your child.

Binxcat1 said...

They can come to my house with their cameras any time they like... there will be screaming (from me AND them), there will be messy hair (all of us), there will be toys from one end of the house to the other and not-so-perfectly-clean floors... there will be chaos one minute and military precision the next (depending what time of day you arrive)... as for my therapist... what therapist?... but yeah, there will be some good moments too... no beach (he really is an indoor person)... but some good moments but then again my son does hug me and tells me he loves me... so I guess I can't complain... then again I am not assuming to know what anyone else goes through, much less speak for them.

You are right of course MOM-NOS... speak from your own experiences... don't assume (you all know it makes an ass out of u and me!) to know what goes on in my head, or tell me that I don't. My son and I are the experts on our journey...

S. Donovan said...

I think that although there are terrible things said by these women sometimes the need to be said aloud. When someone can admit to there innermost worse feelings and then verbalize them to others thats when they can say WOW I need help, or be recommended help. It is those who keep it in that are truly worse off; and Ssometimes things may seem helpless and a person just needs to vent.

I do not think its at all fair to chastise anyone for these feelings because unfortunately they must be going through rough times to even to admit to such. As there are so many kids on the spectrum with different severities I think we also have to remember as parents we are also on a spectrum with different abilities to cope. Another person stated that this is very much like PPD once one woman admitted o how they felt after having the baby there were others who came out and said the same. This led to much awareness about the Baby Blues and communities to reinforce and show support for people feeling that way instead of isolating them.
I absolutely love this discussion b/c as you read so many responses you are learning from others. With that said its important to ensure that we all support one another, and hope that no one ever has to feel so alone that they would hurt themseles or a beautiful child. Best wishes to you all!

Anonymous said...

While I agree that parents of children with autism must try to focus on the gifts and joy their children bring as much as possible, we also have to remember that everyone's experiences and mental capacity to handle challenges are different. We aren't all built the same way, our kids don't all function on the same level. There are some parents (with some problems of thier own) out there dealing with some very heavy things. And while I agree the film doesn't accurately reflect the overall experience of many families affected by autism, it does reflect the true heartache and despair of a few mothers that may not possess the support or strength of mind that others do. We should be reaching out to these moms, not condemning them as horrible and unfit as some others posting here are doing. We help our kids because they need real help understanding the world better. Some moms need extra help getting to that place of gratitude and acceptance as well. Personally, I think the seasoned members of the autism community should be the first to offer it.