Why All the Hate in the Autism Community?


I really, really, really enjoy reading blogs and Facebook pages where autism is the common thread. The people who write or read these blogs/pages usually have someone in their lives affected by autism. I can commiserate with others struggling with similar behaviors and delays or celebrate with them as I read about their child meeting a milestone or goal. It can be immensely reassuring to read about someone else who has a child who shares some of the same issues, quirks or talents as my own. Personally, I believe it makes one feel less alone while stuck deep in the autism trenches. I also love the blogs that use sarcasm, snark and humor to help ease the seriousness of what we’re dealing with.

But I’ve come to realize that some of these same people I feel an instant camaraderie with can become vehemently vicious when someone makes a comment or writes a post that contradicts their opinion for treatments or on how to parent a child with autism. All of a sudden, everyone is an expert.

For instance, vaccination is a hot, explosive topic amongst the autism community. There are some for and some against vaccinating their child(ren) who have autism.  Some believe, without a shadow of doubt, their child has autism because they received a vaccination, while others think the aforementioned parents are crazy. You can hardly admit to liking or hating Jenny McCarthy or Dr. Andrew Wakefield without setting someone off. Other big trends that get people all riled up are whether or not autism can be cured, using the words “high-functioning/low-functioning,” autism schools, communication devices, ABA therapy, special diets (no gluten, no casein, no dyes, etc.), nutritional supplements and alternative therapies. While some parents are taking out second mortgages for some of these treatments, others are thinking those same parents are either nuts, going overboard or even abusing their child.

I get it; we all want what’s best for our kids. Of course, everyone’s perception of what’s best obviously can differ from parent to parent. Whether we want them to gain speech, feel better physically, lower their anxiety level, reduce the spinning and flapping, gain social and life skills or obtain the ability to cope in this chaotic world, I believe we truly just want them to be happy and to reach their fullest potential.

What I don’t get is all the hate, anger and condemnation. Why do some people attack other parents for their choices and beliefs regarding their own child affected by autism? Aren’t we all on the same team? Do we all have to agree and be on the same page? It’s so upsetting and quite sad to see parents bash one other just because so-and-so refuses to vaccinate or so and so does vaccinate. Scientists, doctors and other professionals are all trying to pinpoint autism’s cause and hopefully some day soon, we will have definitive answers, but for now, why can’t we all just focus on advocating for, helping and loving our own child? Sure, share what’s working well and what’s not working. Share whether your child is vaccinated or not, following a special diet, doing alternative treatments, going to ABA schools, homeschooled or maybe how you’re just doing traditional therapy and sending them to the public schools. Write about what seems to work for your child versus what doesn’t because it may help someone else make decisions — especially those new to the game. While our extra unique kiddos on the spectrum often view things in black and white, I don’t think it’s productive nor kind to think that way as parents or caregivers.  There are of course always extremists on both ends, but I have to believe we all share a common bond and should be building each other up instead of ripping someone a new one for their choices or way of thinking.

We want our kids on the spectrum to be accepted by society for who they are and to be treated with respect. How in the world can that ever happen if we ourselves are unable to give each other respect? We need to quit working against one another and be more supportive and understanding as a whole without getting caught up on individual choices. Do what you feel is right for your child and your child alone, and please try to keep the peace in our ever-growing autism community. I think we have enough hardships, stress and angst on our plate as it is, don’t you?

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This post originally appeared on Our Version of Normal.

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