In the past week I've seen some posts on Facebook by parents expressing their disappointment in their children, and an article in the media seemingly promoting faeces being implanted into an autistic child thus ‘curing ‘ the child's autism.
As an autistic adult this horrifies me, and has driven me to campaign against harmful unscientifically proven so called treatments against autistics.
I was asked two days ago in an interview what, in my opinion makes parents try these so called treatments on their children? A mixture of brainwashing and desperation to have the Neurotypical child these parents have always dreamed of. Manipulative people playing on the fears and insecurities that as parents we are never doing quite enough to help our children and the misinformation mixed with propaganda that autism is external to the child and is a treatable medical condition. In favour of all the mothers who are Neurotypical and post on FB that you are worried your child will never ‘fit in’, that they will never have friends and that you wish they would play like ‘ normal’ children. That you wish they would stop repeating the same phrases and talking about the same subjects, that their autistic behaviours are disgusting and embarrassing and that you would cure them if you had the chance this is for you.
I'm an autistic adult, I was once your child.
The child you shush as they vocally stimm in the supermarket trying to cope with the hum of the fridges.
The child who never fitted in, who was bullied and tried to make friends with children who never accepted them.
The child who lined up their dolls so they could see how perfect they were, how lovely they were looking straight ahead faces unhidden and motives apparent.
And the child who still walks in a daydream moving to their own beat and still hears the echoes of remarks past.
Your child stands on the edge of the playground, it's morning and you are dropping them off. This is what you see:
Other children running, laughing and screaming.
Children playing with one another, talking to each other and comparing cards, toys and whispering with giggles erupting.
Mothers dropping their children off at the gate and watching their child speed off to be greeted by their peers, they smile and swing their bag higher onto their shoulder then turn and leave. They seem confident that their child is fine and already thinking about the shopping they have to do or the job they have to get to.
You look at your child.
They stand slightly behind you staring ahead and one hand flaps slightly.
You encourage them to go forward and socialise, your voice straining slightly from with held tears and you fein a smile and say “Go ahead hunny! That boys in your class right?” Pointing to a loud happy boy who's high fiveing a class mate.
They examine the concrete with an intensity that's staggering.
You look at your child.
Will he ever have friends? You wonder, will he go to birthday parties and sleepovers?
Will I ever be that mother leaving the school confidently?
You sigh as the teacher comes out, and smile as other children flock over to line up with your child. Your child always has to be first in line, if they aren't there's a meltdown of epic proportions. You remember the last one in the department store, the random screaming with no apparent trigger and the frustration at having to abandon yet another shopping trip.
The frantic pulling at your child's hands which were firmly clamped to their ears as they screamed over and over, ‘What's wrong? What is it? How can I know if you don't tell me?!” You shouted.
The crying you did in the car as they sat strapped into their car seat, quiet now.
Why you? You sob, why them?
This what your child saw in the playground:
Children running in random patterns omitting screeching sounds. Their faces blurred as their expressions changed rapidly, laughing and pushing each other for no apparent logical reason.
Colours, so many and loads of different clothing styles and textures.
Children comparing cards and toys which are mass produced and they all HAVE to have them. They all match or try to.
Whispering and sly looks as they realise that your child's there.
They look up and see their your expression? You look sad as you watch the other children playing, and they know you feel that way because of them. They overheard you the previous night on the phone saying to someone that you wish that once, just once you would get invited somewhere, anywhere!
They start with horror as you encourage them to go and play with the most popular boy in the class, the one who calls them a freak whenever he meets their eye.
The one who tripped them up last week at lunch, who put their latest trainer clad foot on a pound of their pocket money when it spilled from their pocket as it hit the floor.
The concrete they notice has flecks of red stone in it, they hadn't previously noticed these before and they lock in and concentrate on them. Snatches of conversation from nearby clusters of children are filed away for later. A new toy to mention in the hope of inclusion in a discussion maybe? A new music group is praised and your child will later mimic the tone and words of the child saying it to gain a smile from a peer.
They would have discussed the recent development in politics they watched last night on the news but doubt other children will show interest.
They have friends, the teacher is their friend who discusses politics and current events with them. Who's amazed by their knowledge and dry wit.
The boy in the year above who smiles shyly at them as they silently play alongside wench other on the computers in the IT suite.
Hands flapping slightly.
A birthday invite is handed out at break time, mercifully they are not handed one as the thought of balloons, games and watching another child open presents in front of holds zero appeal.
They remember the shopping trip to the department store.
The overwhelming noise of the tills, the frustration of not being able to move in the queue.
The feeling of falling as it got to much and of you.
Of you screaming at them and trying to pull their hands off their ears, of you crying in the car sobbing why? Why me? Why you?
Do you see now?
Your child has feelings you don't account for and feels more then you realise.
Who are these wished for birthday invites to? You or your child?
Who are these sleepovers for? You or your child?
The desperation for a child who's so called normal, who ‘fits in’ screams from you.
You are prime targets for snake oil salesman peddling cure alls which, if you don't sort yourself out and open your eyes to the special unique little individual in front of you you could be suckered into.
You have your child, they may not fit your box hell why should they?
Get them into a child political debating team, invite the quiet kid over for dinner and stop wishing for things your child does not want, may never want!
Get some sensory integration in place, buy some ear defenders and read articles by autistic adults not mass produced books by people who are not autistic. Lastly if a treatments unproven scientifically, if you are advised not to approach doctors or inform anyone you are using it stop it immediately.
There is no cure for autism. Your child is autistic and you need to accept that and do all you can to help them. Not help them fit in, help them stand out in their Neurodiverse glory!
Let go of your Neurotypical dreams, accept the Autistic reality.