Autism 101: Hating Your Autistic Child

My son, Nicholas Hemachandra, in 2017; he was 14 when this post was written.

Full title and full disclosure: Autism 101: hating your autistic child … and teaching her or him self-loathing.

Twice in the past week I’ve seen “I love my child, but I hate autism” posts by parents of autistics. One was written by a real-life friend I respect greatly, and one was by a Facebook friend I’ve never met.

It’s not that this language is rare. Somewhat shockingly to me, despite much good work by many autistic adults and autism professionals, it is a language still common to many of the largest autism organizations and associations. It is a language still common to many autism parents. It is a language still common to media and general society.

It is, indeed, a language and idea most common and base.

Most times I wince, shudder, and keep moving, because it happens so often and it is so heartbreaking and we can only afford so many broken hearts before we, too, shatter. Or maybe I’m just too cowardly or tired on any given day.

But occasionally I’m triggered, and I say or write something. I have to. Well, I choose to. So here we are.

Let me put it plainly and directly: If you are a parent of an autistic child, you cannot hate autism and love your child.

If you hate autism, you hate your child.

Also, you are teaching your child to hate herself or himself.

Autism is essential to your child’s identity. If you took away her or his autism — which isn’t possible — your child would be a different person.

If you want a different person for a child, you don’t love your child.

So, you aren’t hating autism. Autism isn’t a thing that exists to hate. It does not exist outside of its expression in actual human beings. We’ve just created an idea and given it a name and clustered definition, representing a shared way of being for some people. The only place autism exists is in people — it exists as real people. Instead, you are hating your child, despite your words and beliefs to the contrary. And you are teaching your child self-rejection and self-hatred.

Autism is no different than race or sexual orientation or humanity itself. It is simply part and parcel of a person’s being.

I love my black child, but I hate blackness. I love my gay child, but I hate homosexuality. I love my son, but I hate men.

I love my autistic child, but I hate autism.

Like the others, that is a failed formulation, incoherent thought and emotion and obviously harmful.

It is not love.

It is abusive parenting.

Autism is integral to every part of your child’s personhood. It informs the way he or she thinks, feels, acts, and engages —receives and expresses — with the world, including interacting with people, most certainly including you.

If you want to take away your child’s autism, you will fail. And you will also fail as a parent in every important way.

If you hate autism, you not only hate your child: you hate every single autistic child, every single autistic person.

You are prejudiced, and when you say that you hate autism, you are engaged in hate speech.

Haters gonna hate, the saying goes. But there’s hope. The hope resides in you.

It’s like when someone who is anti-gay is told that she or he has a gay child. A lot of disowning used to happen after that. It was terrible. It caused unimaginable harm. People tried to be who they weren’t. People were rejected. Lives and families were injured.

But the world has changed and people have changed. There’s more acceptance now, more embracing even: embracing that child or adult as every bit as beautiful as anyone else, embracing her or his orientation as an essential expression of who they are, and loving who they are.

Society is a little bit further back on the curve for the autistic population. We’re still trying to cure. We’re still trying to eradicate.

But, setting aside language about there being nothing to cure, there simply is no cure — even if children’s or adults’ expressions of autism are overridden, that’s still who they are inside and how they process and engage the world and exist in the most essential way. It’s like someone gay pretending to be straight or a lighter-skinned black person pretending not to be black. There have been times and places, and there still are places in this time, where that might lead to greater societal acceptance. But no empathetic person thinks such artifice could possibly fulfill a person’s best life — a life that is truthful and joyful and real. I ask you to strive to support your real child in having her or his best authentic life.

It does get complicated, including for me. My son, Nicholas, is 14. He has been described by professionals as having classic Kanner-type autism, at a time when the definition of autism is undergoing undulating expansion.

There is a difference between supporting a child — or any person — and trying to change them into someone else. The difference is in some ways obvious but in some ways fairly sophisticated: we can fool ourselves into thinking we’re doing the former when we’re really doing the latter.

My child is the heart of the world. And I remember quite well the years of tantrums and self-injury, kicking and flailing, no talking, triggers of all sorts in every aspect of his life. He wore a helmet for years to avoid fracturing his skull.

I tried to help him, not change him. That desire drew us to North Carolina and the TEACCH supportive model of structured teaching (and living), rather than “curing.” The strategies we employed helped him feel more a part of the world. They supported him and alleviated some of his stress. The world became more sensible to him. He became happier.

Nicholas and Ray Hemachandra at the top of Rainbow Falls (Photo by Heather Holt Hill)

Nicholas and me at the top of Rainbow Falls in Gorges State Park, North Carolina (photo by Heather Holt Hill)

Still, there’s always a balance to be found around “helping” — around parenting and therapy and teaching models. When does supporting someone in their happiness and well-being cross into sending a message of trying to transform their autism — assigning characteristics to autism and labeling them as bad and needing to change — and thereby of rejecting the autistic as an autistic? When do we shift from good intentions, even good intentions with substance and not just parental self-interest, into abuse?

What does the child feel and hear and know?

The answer isn’t easy. It can’t just be about intentions. It’s also about what’s received in words, feelings, actions, perceptions, and emotions. Over the years Nicholas has done an awful lot of occupational therapy, speech therapy, TEACCH sessions, social skills sessions, and more. The thought gave me pause last night. So, as I tucked Nicholas into bed, I asked him — utterly out of the blue for him, but he didn’t hesitate in his replies:

“Nicholas, do you think I hate autism, like autism, or love autism?”

“Poppa loves autism.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Because I am Poppa’s guy.”

“And?”

“And Poppa loves me.”

Right. Just right.

Nicholas' smile sometimes still shows the effects of the Bell's Palsy. (I asked his permission before posting this photo, taken on Sunday.)

Nicholas’ smile sometimes still shows the effects of Bell’s Palsy. (I asked his permission before posting this photo, taken on Sunday in Holmes State Forest.)

Still, acceptance and embracing aren’t always easy. While I’ve never wished Nicholas didn’t have autism — I’ve never hated autism, much less said so — Nicholas had a Bell’s Palsy episode a few weeks ago.

His smile, especially, contorted his face. When he would try to smile, his mouth would torque downward and to the left. It looked painful, even though it probably wasn’t. Nicholas was confused and upset both by his appearance and by his inability to control his own facial muscles. He became very anxious, and his tics and stereotypic movements increased significantly over the next few days.

I felt some anguish: this kid sometimes has had a rough time of it. I hoped that the Bell’s Palsy would just go away, even as I knew if it didn’t, we would need to accept and embrace it.

Bell’s Palsy can correct quickly, a good while later, or never. It has improved a lot for Nicholas, relatively quickly, although it still is present and worsens sometimes, at unexpected moments and especially on long days. Also, Bell’s Palsy predicts future Bell’s Palsy.

I know I need to help my son find a language and attitude of accepting and embracing should it increase again or should another major episode occur down the road. And the only way it will work, the only way it will be authentic and meaningful for him, is if I really mean it.

Thank you for engaging with this article. If you’d be so kind as to share it on social media channels using the buttons below the post, I’d appreciate it. I also invite you to explore some of my other articles about autism on this blog, among them:

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79 thoughts on “Autism 101: Hating Your Autistic Child

  1. My goodness. Those comments were certainly eye-opening. But I appreciate the honesty and openness of everyone concerned, even though much of it was hard to read. I think it has given me some insights I didn’t have before about my own family. It took me a long time to like who I am – sensory and empathic irregularities and all – but I never really understood that the pain these parents are expressing is their own. Growing up, I felt terrible that I could not be the way my family wanted me to be…but reading those comments as an adult gives me a better understanding of what they were going through.

    I love your article – it is empowering and wonderful to read from my perspective – but it is also important for me to see the expressions of pain that this perspective causes parents like mine. I’m sorry they found it so painful, but I think it hurt them more than it hurt me.

    My sensory issues with sound can be annoying sometimes, but the flip side is wonderful. I hear things other people never hear – I would never want to give that up, even on the days when speaker distortion sends me sobbing, running blindly away with my hands over my ears. It’s worth it.

    Same with my empathic tendencies. Yup, people can wear me out, and make me (quite literally) hide under the bed, but it’s also kind of cool to experience other peoples’ feelings on a very deep level. I wouldn’t trade that away, either.

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  2. Hi Ray. Just loved this piece! I work with Action For Autism, New Delhi (autism-india.org). Seeing that you welcome people sharing your articles on the social media, I am writing to request if we could please publish this particular article in our forthcoming issue of the Autism Network, an Autism Journal published by Action For Autism’s three times a year. The print versions come out in April, August and December and the journal is also available on our website. We would of course carry any acknowledgements in addition to details of where the article was first published, that you think fit. I’ve already sent a more detailed request, around a week back, both through the ‘contact’ format given in this website, as well as in your facebook inbox. Keeping my fingers crossed for a positive response soon. Thanks. Indrani

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  3. I like to think that as a parent of a child on what would be considered the higher functioning end of the Autism spectrum that I have done nothing to negatively impact my child’s feelings of self worth and yet, because he is acutely aware of the way his diagnosis impacts him and his day to day functioning there is a great deal of self loathing. I have always tried to approach things as being as supportive and to offer my unconditional love. I have never approached him with the thought that “I must fix this about him” but I have tried to make available the tools he needs to try to find his own way of dealing with whatever limits he perceives he has. More often that not I have found myself serving in the role of cheerleader to him, but often to no avail because he refuses to believe in himself. Yet, he knows that I am not one to offer false praise and that He should be able to take what I say at face value. Each parent/child relationship differs, and like any relationship, there may be certain attributes one could very happily do without. I often wish my child could see for himself that his perception of self is not accurate. It breaks my heart that he is so very critical of everything about himself. It breaks my heart that he self sabotages his ability to succeed by his inaccurate view of himself….. Hate is a very strong word to use, and it does not roll off my tounge easily, but I do hate that autism has made his life so difficult. Does this mean I hate who he is? I have to disagree that this feeling cannot exist on its own without also meaning that I feel the same about my child. I believe that the premise you state is a harsh one to lay at the feet of parents who see the pain in their child’s eyes and hate that it is there due to this twist of fate. I wish I was the perfect parent that never wished my child did not have to struggle daily due to ASD, but alas I am guilty of wishing he did not have this challenge in his life. I’m only human.

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  4. Loved your post, this is very true and I’m always shocked to see this ableist and hypocritical behavior from supposedly loving parents. I do wish you hadn’t compared autism to gay rights, and saying that autism was less accepted, when something like Orlando has just happened, and that eradication and cures are still being hopes for and attempted

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  5. Dear Ray,
    Love to Nicholas. I hope he gets better fast.
    I cannot express my feelings concerning autism and my children as beautifully as you do, but I agree with you completely.
    Jean

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  6. After reading the original post and the comments, I have several thoughts. I agree that you have understand that autism is a part of your child. However no one needs to be overjoyed by this. My 18 son who has “classic” autism is amazing. Autism has freed him of the social restraints most kids his age have, consequently he is fearless, unabashedly outgoing and charismatic. He also is impulsive, quick to irritation and unfocused. I don’t dislike him because I don’t like those characteristics. My younger son is 13, has more severe autism and is bipolar. He is a sweet, attentive and helpful boy who is prone to daily bouts of violence towards me. I don’t like to being bitten, slap, punched or choked but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like him. I think the focus should be on collectively figuring out how to best support our children, rather than looking for yet another way to make autism seem like a super fun club or ways to make families already dealing with a lot, feel extra guilt on top of it. Autism is a hard for the people who have it as well as those they live with.

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    • I agree with Dawn B. My 17 year old son with moderate autistic behaviors has just started getting violent and aggressive with me and I am not embracing any of that. He needs social skills classes and psych services like anyone else who cant deal with their emotions.

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  7. This is a really amazing article and I’ve shared it on facebook. This is so important for allistic people, especially family members to understand. Autism is a part of us, without it we would not be ourselves– you cannot hate Autism and love us, and it’s so great to see such a well written article put it into words so well. Thank you.

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  8. This is one of the best, most sincere, beautiful accounts I’ve read from a parent in a long time. I’ve exhausted the available resources in my area and have been searching to find a better place, and really just a parent with a similar mindset to possibly help me along for my son and I to find a more accepting life. I don’t care about looks, I don’t care about other people’s comfort. Even before I fully understood how my cultural environment is completely out of touch with the reality of being autistic, I knew instinctively that THIS IS NOT OK. To talk about or to a child to make them feel less than.
    This was a beautiful article sir, thank you.

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  9. Sorry but I must agree with Maria – no one living with classic severe non-verbal autism would wish to be that way nor wish to be defined that way. My son breaks walls with his forehead because he cannot let me know that he wants lunch- how does that define him as a human? That does not…that is autism. My son laughs at funny movies, loves to be cuddled and tickled, adores his aunts and uncles, would live in the ocean if he could. All of those things are my son…none of those things have anything to do with being autistic. My son bruises himself by punching, cries for no reason or giggles when something goes wrong, my son repeats the same words over and over 10 times and gets mad when you try to get him to stop. My son broke through the glass of the front door today with his head because I made him stop a ritual involving locking and unlocking the back door. That’s autism…that’s not my son. Autism is a neurological screw up that left my son struggling so hard to be who he wants to be while not allowing the rages and confusion and verbal challenges define him. More power to you if you want to be defined by a miswiring….go for it if you feel better knowing that you can make a good thing out of this but some of us, we see it differently. I don’t judge you for making your claim but I resent the fact that you seem to judge me for hating autism. Because let me be very clear…I HATE AUTISM WITH EVERY CELL IN MY BODY. I LOVE MY SON WITH THE VERY SAME CELLS. and surprise to you….I can do it.

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    • I also hate Autism when the behaviours come and cant be controled!!! The yelli g and hitti g when we are all soung happy things, he prefers to be elsewhere! So i hate Autism with all of me!!! But i love my grandsons because they are oart of me!! They are smart and funny, AUTISM IS NOT!! So i dont care who doent like my response, ITS MY RESPONSE!!!!

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    • Yes! Kdelany! Everything you said! I couldn’t have expressed it any better. I hate my daughter’s autism, the fact that she destroys everything around her and hysterically sobs because she can’t control herself and doesn’t know why she never feels ” right”. I hate autism, but I love my daughter. She’s not defined by the most negative parts of this disorder, it’s not who she is!

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    • I hate autism and my son. His autism ruins everything. My husband won’t have more children because of the autism. So I’m stuck with this violent non responsive non empathetic child, who may improve, but will never get better. Great you love your son’s autism. But that’s not my reality. I will be his carer and jailer until I die.

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      • I understand you, it is so rough! And then these politically correct buffoons want to guilt us into not speaking the truth. I was a single parent, LOVED my son dearly, did the best I could but ended up having a NERVOUS BREAKDOWN from so much stress, at which point I had to send him away. It was so painful to do it. But now 7 years later hes doing ok and my life is better. Just remember if you ever break down completely or have thoughts of hurting him or yourself or of suicide or homicide, dont hesitate to call 911 or take the child to a childrens hospital.

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  10. The love/hate dichotomy.
    Mother: I love my child, but I hate his Autism.
    Mother: I love my child, but I hate his transsexualism.
    Mother: I love my child, but I hate his homosexuality.
    Mother: I love my child, but I hate his skin tone.
    Mother: I love my child, but I hate his hair.
    Child: I want to love my mother, but she hates everything about me.

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    • Do you see parents saying
      “I love bipolar or schizophrenia because my child is inseparable from it so that’s their identity.”
      “I love my child’s suicidal impulses because that’s who they are.”
      “I just love my child’s seizures because they’re part of him”

      NO, that would be ridiculous. No parent wants to see their child suffer or have to worry about whether they will ever function independently or what will happen to them after they’re gone. To go out of your way to characterize them as monsters or even Nazis, as some others in the comments have, is incredibly wrong.
      My autism is a condition that has not benefited my life and caused a lot of suffering, it may be part of my identity but it is not essential to my identity. It is not me. I actually am a person not wholly based on my neurological condition, if I hate the way my disorder affects me and limits me in life it does not mean I was abused or brainwashed into being self hating. I find this article full of deliberate fallacy (like choosing to comparing it only to examples of bigotry), and I find this benevolent attitude incredibly insulting and infantilizing to my agency and intelligence.

      I hated wanting to do things but not being able to make the connection.
      I hate the mood swings and depression and being chained to unregulated emotions.
      I hate wanting to be a part of things, but being unable to because of sensory overload and anxiety.
      I hate that being unable to read people makes me vulnerable to walking right into very dangerous situations.
      I hate that it gets in the way of things I want to do. I hate wanting children, but being afraid to because I get so easily overwhelmed by everyday situations that I don’t know if I’m really equipped to be responsible for someone else, especially if they also have special needs.
      I hate not being able to trust my own mind.

      My mother loves me, she hated my condition because it was hurting me, and no one wants to see the ones they love hurt. I am considered high functioning now, but that was not always the case. I am glad I’ve grown so that I can work, go to school and have relationships. My mother worked very hard and helped me to overcome it as much as possible because she loved me, and I am capable of understanding the difference, thank you very much. Do not presume to speak on my behalf.

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      • So I shouldn’t love other people because of their neurotypicality? That’s what we’re really talking about here, a difference of neurology that becomes problematic upon negative input from others, whereas the conditions you’ve described are negative without input of any kind, thus complete opposites. Please come back once you’ve quit hating your child’s brain.

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        • Um, she is the child in that relationship. Not saying it’s right or wrong, but I wanted to point that out. Love the screen name, btw. CHEESE! CHEESE FOR EVERYONE!!!

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  11. Thank you for this. I am not autistic, but I suffered a brain injury as a baby. This all applies to my experience as well.

    I remember my parents constantly wanting to “fix” me. First of all, it’s not possible. 2nd of all, when you have a brain injury that young, it is a part of you. It is a major portion of what makes you who you are. All my life I have felt like I am a burden, like I am in everyone else’s way. I hate myself for needing help with anything, or making any mistakes. I’m finally beginning to realize why that might be, which means maybe now I can heal from it. The part of me with the disability was always rejected, always thought of as “bad”. Self-acceptance is hard, but it’s necessary. I think I might finally be on that path.

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  12. I’m sick of this.

    It’s difficult having an autistic sister, and she’s mild. I couldn’t imagine raising a severely autistic person. It’s too much stress, and I’m entitled to my feelings, but they aren’t guilt free. I feel so so bad regretting her autism, wishing she were normal, but it’s difficult. Stares are difficult. Watching her get pulled out of school due to developmentally inappropriate behavior is difficult. The possibility she may never be able to live on her own is difficult. I don’t tell her to act differently or try to make her change herself; my family tries to help her find coping mechanisms to deal with her developmentally inappropriate emotional reactions. However it’s hard. Everyone in my family’s lives would be easier if she weren’t autistic. I don’t even enjoy conversations with her because I know I’m deprived of normal sisterly love.

    I see everyone telling me my feelings are wrong. It’s hard to have difficulty accepting my feelings, as immorally I feel wrong. But she’s difficult. She’s stressful. She’s hard to handle. She’s a burden. I’ll never understand what it’s like to have a normal bond with a sibling. To not get stared at in public. To put mattress pads on a hotel bed because she still has accidents at 11 years old. You never get a break, time to yourself, and you never get the same bond you would with a normal person. I don’t abuse her, and I try to treat her like everyone else as much as I can, but I’m stressed out every time I’m in her presence. It’s hard to accept the stresses of having an autistic family member. Personally, if she were my biological daughter, I would have given her away as I would not be able to handle the stress independently. Everyone acts like you’re a monster if the stress is too much, but autistic people bring on much more stress than the average person, and to deny how stressful they are is a lie to promote tolerance. It’s better to give up autistic persons than to raise an autistic person and cause abuse towards them. You cannot force the love of an autistic person. They are difficult to love, as much as society tries to deny this fact.

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    • As an autistic adult, I would be so hurt if I was your relative and saw this. The world is already hard enough. Finding acceptance is already hard enough. Reading this would kill me inside if I was your sister because you make it very clear that she is unwanted the way she is.

      Yes, people with autism are stressful to be around. How do you think it feels for us? I’ll tell ya what, as stressful as it is for you, it’s ten times more stressful for the autistic person.

      Your sister CAN sense this from you, by the way. If she seems more stressed out around you, guess why. You sound just like MY older sister, who has the same attitude as you. I avoid her as much as I can because I can feel the disapproval coming off her like a bad smell and I get the sense that I am only tolerated in her presence. That’s it. Tolerated.

      Your sister and I both deserve to be loved. We want to be loved. Even if it’s hard. Love her anyway.

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    • I understand addressing something that is commonly said & addressing the issues with the false belief. I suggest that what would be most helpful is to try to HELP people who say this, or who express their extreme anger/frustration about this. I think that someone who says they hate autism is crying out for help, and realizes it it is socially unacceptable to say they hate their kid sometimes. If we can’t get help, we’re doomed to “teaching our children self-hatred”. How about some pointers & encouragement for when we are at the end of our rope? We don’t have to agree in order to have empathy.
      Thanks, Anonymous for sharing.

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  13. This tendency to separate one’s ‘evil’ from who one actually ‘is’ has been described in “The Nazi Doctors” by R. J. Lift on. He names it ‘splitting’ – where one compartmentalizes oneself so that one can do blatant acts of cruelly and simultaneously be ‘loving’ (to one’s in-group, as a rule).

    To the Nts here who speak of the defective nature of their children, this amounts to a double-bind: they want a child – the child they (unconsciously) believe they’ve earned – but instead, that child was stolen from them – much as if this era was back in the dark ages and ‘fairies/ trolls/ malevolent djinns’ were believed to exist.

    They actually DO hate the child they currently have – only they believe (unconsciously, as a rule) that it’s a ‘stock’ (historical term used regarding changelings). This accounts for the “attitude of war”

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  14. I really really appreciate this article. I have been internally challenged over the past few months about what the state of my heart is regarding autism and how it affects my son. I think I’ve realized today how I have compartmentalized it: the sweet face on one side and the sensory issues on the other. So if I look at it like that, then yes, I can say I “hate” autism (not that I do)…but I must admit that there’s also a bit of selfishness in there: it’s more that I “hate” what the effects of it are in terms of how it affects my life and makes me uncomfortable and extends me. That selfishness is not at all what parenting is about. The more I read the writings of Autistics and the more I ask questions of them, and the more I read posts like this one and the comments that follow, the more I realize that it’s not actually MY perspective that counts here: it’s my son’s. If HE sees it as part of himself (and there are so many things that he does, that none of my other kids have done, that I just LOVE and think are just brilliant!) and if I truly love him, then I will take the advice of those who have an inside view on his world, and love him AND his autism. Because I never ever want him to feel not-good-enough. Ever. And so I will change my heart, I will choose to love autism and love my autistic son and the many autistics who comment and stand up and advocate for our autistic kids. I will choose to look at my son as whole, not lacking anything, perfect. So thank you Ray, because you have shown me the error in my thinking; thank you, NT angry people, for showing me that I don’t want to live stuck in denial and anger, but rather to move on to acceptance and growth.
    Most of all, thank you, beautiful, graceful autistic commenters, because you show me the way I want to be, which is full of grace and acceptance. I am always so impressed by how eloquent, calm and sensible autistic commenters are, and the responses to the angry comments here were just that.

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  15. Thank you for this insightful post. As one who is still struggling with self realization, and where my children fit in with this diagnosis, it is vindicating to have my frustrations justified. Though I struggle, I do feel that it is important to address ASD as a challenge, rather. Than something to be hated.

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  16. There seems to be a misconception that when you love someone, you can’t possibly hate something about them. Love is about acceptance of the things we don’t love even when we dislike or even hate those same attributes. I doubt any parent is not accepting of who their child is, they just hate the suffering that autism causes for the child. Being gay is not comparable to having autism. In many ways it’s very similar to a congenital illness that causes physical pain, the screams and cries make you hate the illness not your child. Is it apart of them? Yes. Is it making them suffer in ways that seem unbearable for them and the parent? Also yes.

    Love is not black and white, it’s not an all or nothing. Thinking so is probably how people deal with a situation they have no control over. If this works for you then by all means but do not imply that all other moms who can separate and differentiate love and autism and who can speak from the heart are any less of a parent than you are.

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    • The problem with such magical thinking , is that it’s not realistic. People who claim to love their children while hating the thing that makes them who they are often wind up committing filicide, and no one who truly loves someone could ever contemplate killing them even during the worst times. I have personal experience of this since my parents put me through a living hell for years trying to ‘recover me from Autism’, but the most I ever imagined was them being involved in some kind of fatal accident while not with me.

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      • “People who claim to love their children while hating the thing that makes them who they are often wind up committing filicide, and no one who truly loves someone could ever contemplate killing them even during the worst times.”

        You’ve created another fallacy here. The fact that some people kill their children does not equal “parents who hate what autism does to their children contemplate killing them.” I’m really sorry you wished for your parents to die, I’m sorry if you believed they wished for you to die. Is it possible this is a constructed perception?

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        • In every case except two, the filicide and attempted filicide of an Autistic person has been preceded by hatred of the Autistic person’s neurology. In the other two cases, one was where the mother was mentally ill and paranoid (making her one of those rare mentally ill people who deliberately harm others), and in the other the mother only imagined driving her Autistic daughter and herself off the George Washington Bridge.

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  17. my son still struggles to accept being autistic because it’s hard for him in a world that isn’t inclusive and he is an age where you really still want to be ‘like the other kids’. he said once ‘i hate my autism. i want it to go away.’ i told him that makes about so much sense as saying ‘i hate my arm. let’s hack it off.’ your arm might look different than that of others.. and it might not be good at some things – but maybe it’s really good at other things, you’ll just have to find out! and for the things that are harder, i am here to help. you are complete with that arm. you are you. i would not want you any other way.
    language really matters. if you ‘hate’, ‘fight’ or want to ‘eradicate’ autism… you are declaring war on our kids. it has to stop.

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    • Speaking as someone with autism, one thing about your response that troubles me is that you didn’t ask why, you just projected your interpretation onto what you thought he was trying to say. Maybe he was trying to tell you something else that was connected to the autism was bothering him.

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  18. “I apologize – I had mistaken you with the author of the blog. I stand by what I said, every single word but most comments are aimed at the author…(arrogance, absolutes etc). Please accept my apology for this confusion.”

    Maria–your confusion and mistaken identity are not what you need to be apologizing for.

    Maybe the condescension, false accusations, and attempt to use of a common piece of bigotry against autistic people to undermine what I was actually saying?

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  19. Thank you for saying it like it is! You will probably get some (more?) angry comments, but remember there are many of us who feel the same as you and who are right behind you.

    For anyone questioning how we know this sort of insidious hate is abuse: we don’t need a study to prove hitting your kid with a baseball bat is abuse, any more than we need a study to prove internalized hate (whether outwardly expressed or not) is abuse. Emotional and verbal abuse are abuse as well. They just don’t leave visible scars.

    If you’re bold enough to sit and make “cute” little memes on Facebook about how much hate you hold in your heart, it’s spilling out and overflowing into other parts of your life as well. Like slime, you leave a trail of hatred oozes from your pores everywhere you go. It clings to your child and they don’t know how to wipe it off.

    Why not knit warm blankets of love and acceptance they can wrap around themselves, comfortable, calming and protective?
    How do you want your child to think of you when they are older?

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  20. A think to consider, for parents who are resistant to hearing the message of this post:

    Your child cannot become non-autistic for you. Your child can’t separate themselves from their autism for you.

    You say you hate autism and not your child, but how is your autistic child supposed to avoid the hate directed at their autism?

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  21. Reblogged this on TAG and commented:
    If you’re the parent of an autistic child who believes, and says, “I hate autism, but I love my child,” you’re trapped in an logical fallacy, Worse, you are teaching your child to hate himself or herself.

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  22. All I can say is how dare you. I’m not sure what your goal was other than to get lots of hits on your site. How dare you say I don’t love my child? Why did you employ the TEEACH method if you think Autism is so awesome? Why didn’t your child just go to regular school? Did you enjoy the helmet days and say “wow this autism rocks! I love autism! Bring me more autism today!”. How dare you equate a neurological condition with race and sexual preference. Are you really that narrow minded? I will not share this article because it is garbage and I won’t give it one more view. Shame on you.

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    • Thank you, i was thinking the very same thing. Complete garbage, it especially bothers me because i know as a parent with a little one on the spectrum how deep my pain and confusion are at times. This thought system is wrong, upsetting, and just frankly could send a fellow Autism parents into a downward spiral of depression. This was not helpful or supportive to the Autism community as a whole.

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  23. I disagree. I don’t equate hating autism with abusive parenting. I also don’t equate autism to my child’s race or ethnicity. If your child has diabetes and you don’t appreciate the way it causes your child to suffer, does that mean you don’t appreciate your child?? NO. If your child has cancer, you can hate the cancer without hating your child. I DON’T believe my son and autism are the same. I see my son as a happy, loving, outgoing child and then BOOM autism! and he’s biting himself, screaming earshattering shrieks and having tantrums because he cannot regulate his emotions or exercise impulse control. That is not my son, that is the wiring problems in his brain, and I absolutely can separate the two. I love my child, I would lay down my life for my son, but I would eradicate the autism as surely as I would eradicate cancer cells if I had the means to do so.

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    • Here’s the thing, though: Autism is not like diabetes. Autism is not like cancer. Neither of those things are intrinsic to how people with them experience themselves and the world in every respect.

      Autism doesn’t exist outside of autistic people. You can cure someone of diabetes and they’re the same person. You can cure cancer, and the person who had cancer is still the same person.

      That’s not how autism works.

      When you tell people that it’s alright to hate autism…and then those people see autism in your child, or in another person…how do you think they are going to treat your child, or that other autistic person? If they hate something that cannot be separated from them?

      When you’re saying that you’d eradicate autism, you are very much saying that you’d eradicate people like me, and people like your son, from the face of the earth.

      How are we supposed to take that?

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      • Here’s the thing though – You are absoutely entitled to feel however you want to about autism. You can find it a blessing for you or your child, you are entitled. What you are not entitled to do is to judge me for feeling differently or try to dictate to me and other parents who share my feelings how we have to feel. You can interpret my feelings through your filters and perspective, but you cannot impose your judgement on me with authority and conviction because it is not empirical or proven. What data do you have to support your assertation that I Hate my CHILD because I dislike Autism? That is a ridiculous, condescending, judgmental, and WRONG statement. I love my child as much as, if not more so, than any other amazing parent.

        Autism is most certainly just the same as every other organic condition or disability. “Autism doesn’t exist outside of autistic people” TRUE, but diabetes does not exist outside of diabetics…They are both conditions caused by a malfunctioning of physiology. I can absolutely separate my son from his diagnosis, and for you to assert that I cannot and that I am wrong in thinking the two are separate is presumptuous and arrogant on your part. How can you presume that your feelings and thoughts are the ONLY way to perceive autism?? YOU are discriminating against my child by equating him to his disability.

        Autism is my son’s struggle. Autism is the reason my son cannot read and comprehend information, I am CONVINCED he would have no problem with this skill without autism. Autism is the reason my son doesn’t want to play with the neighborhood kids and doesn’t engage in age appropriate activities like riding bikes in a pack, playing baseball or playing video games. Having two NT children before him, I have absolute conviction that he would do these things without autism. Autism causes my son to have poor impulse control, poor sensory regulation and self-injurious behaviors. I cannot believe he enjoys feeling out of control. I have heard story after story after story of high functioning children with autism distraught because of their struggles and lamenting the condition that causes it.

        I do not hate my CHILD, and I do not HATE autistics just because I cannot embrace Autism. I resent like He** your decree that I do, that one cannot be separated from the other!! In your bid for acceptance you have promoted judgment and criticism of parents who do not share you beliefs. There are many valid ways to feel about any given condition or situation, and no person has the right to dictate the way another person MUST view it. Its no different than religion – your convictions are valid to you in your experiences and understanding, but I am entitled to see things differently. I am not telling you that you are wrong for your feelings and perspective on autism, what makes you think you have the right to condemn, criticize and denounce my feelings or anyone else’s for that matter??

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        • “I don’t hate YOU, just this part of you.”

          Really?

          And no, I can’t judge your feelings, but what I can beg you not to do is to pass on your hate to your child about something that they may or may not feel is in fact intrinsic to who they are. If your child grows up to feel that it is…and you’ve spent their childhood pronouncing your hatred… what are you saying to them?

          Is that really a chance you want to be taking with their sense of self?

          I can’t dictate your feelings, but you have no right to dictate your child’s either, or to dictate your child’s identity or make pronouncements about how they will or won’t feel about their own condition. That belongs to them, not you.

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        • Your comparison to religion, also, is more apt than you may think.

          Yes, everyone has a right to feel and believe whatever they believe.

          What you don’t have a right to do is harm to other people in the name of your feelings or beliefs. (Just as I can live according to strictures of my own religious beliefs, but I don’t have the right to coerce someone else to.)

          The accounts of harm done to autistic people in the name of other people’s right to hatred of autism, are innumerable.

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          • And because SOME people do harm to autistic people means that EVERY parent who resents autism is ABUSIVE? That’s stereotyping. Not every muslim is a radial muslim. Not every parent who dislikes the impact of autism on their child’s life is an abuser or EVER harms their child. Blanket statements such as those harm everyone, and your credibility.

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          • Your resentment does harm to your child.

            Remember, recent research and much writing by autistic people suggests that we tend to be hyper-empaths, not lacking in empathy. We feel your resentment.

            It does a number on our emotional health and sense of self.

            Of course, most parents who resent their child’s autism do NOT intend to be abusive. Most of them think that they ARE doing the best for their children.

            That doesn’t undo the effects on autistic children of their parents’ resentment. We feel it. We know it. Some of us grow up to feel that autism is intrinsic to who we are, and some don’t.

            If your child does…what will you have been saying to them all along about something that they experience to be part of who they are?

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          • And who says I’m saying it to him or around him?? You are making assumptions, again, informed only by your own experiences or pespective. Your experience is not absolute or empirically correct, any more than mine is wrong.

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          • You think you have to say it for us to feel it?

            I’m not making assumptions; I’m telling you the chances you’re taking, based on the writing and personal accounts of a LOT of autistic people, about our experiences with ultra-sensitivity to the emotional states of others, to the displeasure of our parents, and with knowing that we were not wanted the way we were.

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      • Here’s my last comment. Every comment you’ve made you have made with ABSOLUTE conviction, ABSOLUTE certainty that you are right and anyone who doesn’t agree is wrong; that there is no other allowable perspecive but your own. You come off as self-rightous and arrogant and judgmental.

        You are WRONG, there is more than just your perspective on this topic and your attitude is an example of not being able to consider perspectives other than your own – a significant social issue with Autism.

        Believe how you want and will continue to believe and feel how I want. I will continue to be an amazing parent to my child, further my eductation to pursue licensing to help families affected by autism, and promote ABSOLUTE tolerance and love of parents who are struggling with the impact of autism on their children’s lives and their own. We have enough to deal with without being attacked and criticized for not LOVING autism. Believe me, there is enough guilt when watching our children suffer, we really don’t need you to pile on the guilt about how we are abusing or hurting our children through our feelings – especially when it is opinion and nowhere near fact!

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        • I am telling you what I have heard from innumerable adult autistic people about our histories and feelings.

          What you do with that information is really up to you.

          I’ve just told you about the risks that you are taking. Not certainties. But risks.

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          • OMG! WHERE in your blog post does it say risks?? You stated with absolute conviction and authority that “If you are a parent of an autistic child, you cannot hate autism and love your child. If you hate autism, you hate your child.” & “It is abusive parenting.” & “If you hate autism, you not only hate your child: you hate every single autistic child, every single autistic person.” You left no room for considering that you are not absolutely correct and you did not say “you take the risk of {anything}” You said “you are” “you do” “you cannot” absolutely; certainly! Maybe your “message” would be better received if it wasn’t cloaked in attack, arrogance, criticism and self-rightousness.

            And further, I can understand you wanting to share this message, but you do not speak for all autistics, and not all autistics are, feel or perceive things in the same manner. Not all autistics are empaths, many have no cognizance of the feelings and emotions of others. Again, you have come from a place of condemnation and certainty; absolute and unyielding. You wrote in absolutes, not risks. Check yourself. You will not promote anything other than frustration, guilt and resentment when you declare absolutely that these feelings are wrong, abusive and hateful to the PERSON. You negate all of our love, devotion, dedication, acceptance, advocacy, and all of the effort we put in to helping our children become as successful as possible with this blog. You condemn, criticize and attack. You invalidate feelings and create guilt. And nowhere did you say “you take the risk of …”

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          • I’m sorry, I really think you’re confusing me with the author of this blog. In MY other comments to you, I spoke of the risks that you’re taking with with your child’s self-conception and emotional health.

            But this is not my blog and I am not the author of this post.

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        • “…and your attitude is an example of not being able to consider perspectives other than your own – a significant social issue with Autism.”

          It’s not, actually. That’s a piece of bigotry, is what that belief about autistic people is.

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          • @Chavisory … I apologize – I had mistaken you with the author of the blog. I stand by what I said, every single word but most comments are aimed at the author…(arrogance, absolutes etc). Please accept my apology for this confusion.

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          • Not to even mention…as if we haven’t actually considered the viewpoint that we’re defective as people and autism deserves our hatred?

            No, most of us have. Most of us have spent a lot of years considering that perspective.

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          • I did initially consider autism as a flaw, as in the reason for my social communication problems. I didn’t see my restrictive or repetitive behaviours as a problem. When my boys were diagnosed, I was afraid that they would have the same problems as me in relating to their peers and that they might be miserable like I was as a teenager and young adult- chronic anxiety and depression. However, I never hated autism, it was just a ‘no blame’ explanation for my difficulties with socialising. Later, after much reading (autobiographies, journal articles etc) I came to be proud of my autism and who I am as a result (direct and indirect) of my autism. Autism has given me great perspective (ironically) on people and life that others just don’t get :)

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          • Sorry, slightly misinterpreted your comment…yes of course, as you say, we/I I have considered the ‘hate perspective’ especially prevalent on social media and considered it and rejected it. Fear yes, shame yes, frustration yes, sometimes to all those (brene browns books on shame are awesome) but hate never. Thx I appreciate your words :)

            Liked by 1 person

        • “a significant social issue with Autism.”

          Wow! Just…wow. Do you honestly think that when you say something like that you will be seen as someone who respects Autistic people? That was hateful and unnecessary! Especially when someone is trying to explain to you how much it hurts to hear those sorts of things. We can speak with authority because we’ve lived it!

          I don’t know if it’s just my (flawed? over-sensitive? empathetic? Autistic?) impression, but it seems like this really hit a nerve with you and when that happens it’s often a sign there’s some truth to it. You’ve certainly showed your true colors today when speaking to adults, and I have faith you can do better.

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        • Amen Maria. I’m glad you have the guts to speak out on this forum, but honestly, the ND types are not interested in another viewpoint. There are several adults with autism that would LOVE a cure and would welcome it as bringing a new improved version of themselves. They are not welcome in discussions such as these.

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          • Thank you :) And I can see that alternate viewpoints are definitely not welcome. I am ashamed I let the original blog post push my buttons and even more so the subsequent interactions, but I’m human. My son is my primary focus in life and I was incensed by the nerve of someone to declare I cannot love my son if I don’t love autism. Many autistic adults don’t love it either – so they hate themselves? No they dislike the challenges that this neurological condition creates for them. But that will fall on deaf ears. Apparently the ND responders are convinced they speak for everyone and they cannot possibly be incorrect in any way.

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          • I note that your comments weren’t deleted just disagreed with. I also note that there are women who hate feminists, gay people who hate their own homosexuality etc there were even African Americans who supported slavery (http://www.theroot.com/articles/history/2013/03/black_slave_owners_did_they_exist.html). There have always been oppressed people who supported their oppressors, hated people who supported their haters ideology for many reasons, so of course there will be autistic people who hate their autism (doesn’t make for a great argument).

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          • Maria, your ableist hate speech being disagreed with and called out is not censorship. Your comments are not being deleted. You are being called out on your ableist hate speech. I’m sorry that you are unable to deal with that.

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    • Except diabetes is a fuel delivery system gone wrong, whereas Autism is a Honda where you were expecting a Nissan. And of course loving Autism doesn’t mean allowing the Autistic person to suffer, it simply means being accepting of the person, Autism and all, as you and they work together to mitigate their disability and thus alleviating any suffering. Simples!

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  24. Hi Ray, Thank you for sharing these thoughts and feelings. I found you through the Autism WOmen;s Network when they posted your article about the media. So glad you and Nicholas are on the planet at this time of exponential shift and change, as pathfinders and wayshowers.

    Yes, your sharing helps to open hearts and minds to more nurturing ways of thinking.

    I’m a 57 year old person with numerous health issues, including autism. I learned to love myself and “embrace my pace”.

    Have been doing years of research and development for Freestanding, Portable Universal Design, which is easily adapted to each individual, and can be used anywhere without having to put holes in walls, etc. (It is called Precious Prrrsn Nurturing Habitat.)

    It is based upon Grid Beam, Open Source technology. http://www.gridbeam.com

    Being an older person with autism and other challenges, I’ve been focusing on helping to manifest wonderful ways we can live, thrive and age in place with Nurturing Neighborhoods. And I look forward to sharing more about this with you and the world. We are definitely the ones we’ve been waiting for!

    Like

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