I'm going to start today's guest post with an editors note. I received this on the first day of calls for submission and finally got back to the author last night. I simply did not know what to make of this submission. After great internal debate (and the go ahead from the wife... my ultimate editor), I decided to publish this. This voice comes from a mother and I imagine it is written to a family member or very close friend. I want to put this piece up for "discussion". Whereas it is angry in tone, unforgiving, and merciless, it represents something that all of us have felt at one time or another (probably not to this degree).
One of the things that I want to accomplish in the Autism Awareness Month guest post project, is to gain different, previously unheard, perspectives on autism. If you read my blog, I keep it pretty positive. It's not all sunshine and rainbows, but I don't blog about the really tough times. I keep those to myself.
I have a few more submissions that deal with things like this (raising teenagers, raising retardation, raising violence)... things we don't talk about, or are at the very least, under represented in our community.
So, feel free to comment (keep it constructive, please). This is an incredibly powerful, well-written piece.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present Name Redacted...
Another call that makes me feel horrible. Doubt. I don’t understand your thinking. Why is it so difficult to understand that I make decisions not only for myself but for the family and especially for my son. You are aware that he has autism. You tell everyone you are supportive and help with autism awareness. You boast about all of his accomplishments…at least the ones you know of.
In actuality, you don’t really know that much about autism or my family. ‘Did you watch that movie with that Temple woman? You can really learn a lot about autism if you watch it,” says you. Yes. I saw the movie, read her books, read tons of other books on how siblings cope, ones that parents wrote and others that Doctors have written. I even have on-line courses and cds that we listen to. In fact, I have an entire library on autism and sensory processing disorder in my home. Would you like to borrow one? No? OK. That’s right; you know everything there is to know about autism because you watched that movie once.
You go on and on about how I don’t let him do anything or get dirty or run around. I have told you way too many times that he is an eloper. He keeps running. Open areas are dangerous for us. Water is extremely dangerous because he has no fear. Get it? No fear as in he will walk to the edge of the cliff and possibly, keep going. He will walk into the ocean and not know when to stop….yes, I know, the lifeguard is there. Not good enough. Simple fixes right? You are full of them.
Let’s talk about birthday parties or parties in general. Thank you for inviting us but we won’t be able to attend. Why? Too many people, it gets way too loud and you won’t allow him to go off into another room because he may touch something or break it. Remember? Don’t touch that. Leave that alone. Come over here. Stay away from that. Would you go get him?
Remember that one time when he came over to you to ask in his way to play? Then you put your hand out and said no and looked away. I do. I remember. It hurt me to the core and it changed the way I look at you. You hurt me. You hurt my son. Haven’t you noticed how much we don’t communicate? Doesn’t it bother you that you left me no choice but to slowly turn away. I say it doesn’t bother me to people who witness it firsthand but it does because I don’t understand it. How can you be so cold. Don’t answer that because you’ll just turn it all back on me. It’s my fault you don’t see him that often. It’s my fault he doesn’t listen because I didn’t hit him as a baby. It’s my fault that you have a special needs family member and this makes you uncomfortable. You don’t know what to say. You don’t know what to do. Oh, how embarrassing for you. Do you know what’s embarrassing? You. You embarrass me. You make me feel horrible. You enrage me. In fact, I feel much better when I’m with my son so that is how it’s going to be. Have a good life with less of us in it. I know about autism. I am fully aware of his autism and I fully accept it. As for you, you need work. Lots of work.