Disclaimer: I don’t care where you stand on the vaccine/autism issue.
I have friends on both sides of this heated debate and I have friends who are right down the middle.
And if I dislike you, it likely has nothing to do with your opinion on this subject and everything to do with you being a self-righteous jerk.
I believe as autism families, we all have our own truths as to how our child’s diagnosis manifested; what we saw, what we heard, what we experienced. I’m never going to discredit your experience because that’s not my place. Plus, I’m too busy living my very busy, very overwhelming, very intense, and very unique autism life with my own child to devote any time to trying to prove or disprove what YOU feel is YOUR truth.
What I will NOT stand for is someone approaching my son, dramatically nodding their head in pity and exclaiming feverishly, for all the world to hear, “Those #$&*ing vaccines.”
Don’t diminish my son’s existence like that. Don’t look at him like there’s nothing there. Like he doesn’t matter. Like he’s a statistic and nothing else. Don’t look at him like he’s a victim and then look at me like being his mom makes me a victim too. He is a living, breathing, joyful, amazing presence in my life. He matters. He is NOT to be pitied. He is to be respected. He is to be given opportunities to flourish and grow and coexist peacefully and happily in a world that’s just as much his as anyone else’s. He is to be provided with the means to become as independent as possible, as safe as possible, as educated as possible.
Pity doesn’t do any of those things. Pity replaces opportunity and respect with ignorance and inaction. Pity prevents progress. Pity gives you an excuse to stay uneducated about the real challenges and discrimination special needs people face each and every day. Pity makes you part of the problem.
My son doesn’t need your pity.
He needs you to stop staring at him like he’s from outer space. He needs you to pull your head out of your ass long enough to become informed and active. He needs you to keep your opinions to yourself unless those opinions involve all the ways special needs individuals continue to be marginalized by our society and all the ways you intend to help eradicate that.
I don’t know why Andrew has autism. I don’t. But he does. And he’s here. And even if I knew for sure, it wouldn’t change how I feel about him or how I feel the world should treat him or what I believe will help him succeed in life. He’s alive and fabulous and stubborn and funny and determined and I swear to God, if you ever come up to him like that again, and look at him like that again, and shake your head at him like that again,
the only victim in our vicinity
will be you.
***I know there is a lot of information out there right now regarding a potential whistleblower from the CDC and the autism-vaccine debate. That’s not what this blog post is about, so please don’t turn it into that. This post is about the way our children are reduced to nearly nothing by people who look at them as merely shells of real human beings. If you are my friend, and you believe your child was injured by a vaccine, I will hug you and listen to you and believe you. If you are my friend and you believe vaccines had nothing to do with your child’s diagnosis but you wish you had something tangible to cling to, I will hug you and listen to you and believe you. Regardless of where we each stand on this topic, I know we can all agree that there is much work to be done in the way our children are perceived and treated by society, and that’s a subject I’m happy to get into any time of day, with anyone.***
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