That is my motto. Whenever reading any article or videos about Autism, the first rule is Never Read the Comments. Because it is inevitable that the scum of the earth appear and say horrific things. And then some ignorant people show up and say things that are, well, ignorant. And then different people pop in and point out all the ways that those people are Doing It Wrong. And then my head explodes.
Well, I made the mistake of breaking my rule. Oh boy, do I have regrets. I didn't just read any old generic Autism article comments, no sir. I read the comments to a YouTube video that was a brief piece about my family, Diva Girl specifically. This video was on a few different sites and was viewed thousands of times. So sure enough, with that much traffic you are bound to get some bad apples.
Yes, there were some nice comments and some people who could really relate to our family, which was wonderful. But then there were the people who say things about autism just being a made up disorder for kids who have bad parents. And the people who post to tell me I should stop vaccinating my kids. And the people telling me that I need to stop having a pity party for myself. And the pervy guy who said that my SIX YEAR OLD is hot (if I ever met that guy in a dark alley he would not be making it out alive.) I'm not going to lie, some of those comments can really sting and make me sick to my stomach. They are talking about MY precious children, MY beautiful family. Two minutes of video and they think they know enough to judge my parenting and how I view my children. It's amazing how vicious some people can be behind the safety of a computer screen.
I started out today thinking about the fact that this is Autism Awareness Month. I have mixed feelings about the idea of "Autism Awareness", maybe because it seems to mean something different to everyone. The Autism community is so fractured and divided (much to my dismay) and because of that, the world gets some very different ways to view autism thrown at them. And really, autism isn't exactly a little known disorder- everyone has heard of it. So, what's the point of Autism Awareness?
But then I read those comments. And now? I can't help but think a little Autism Awareness is exactly what we need. I also think that we in the Autism Community need to step it up and come together. Are we all going to agree 100% on everything? No. But we can stop being so divisive and we can stop pointing fingers at one another and telling each other how wrong those autism folks are. While we are busy slinging mud at each other and refusing to support one another, we miss opportunities to educate people outside of our bubble. We fail to come together to get laws passed to help the people we love. The fact that there seemed to be an almost equal amount of venom from people within the Autism Community as there were from people who are not...well, that says a lot, folks. It's like we're giving people permission to be hateful towards us since we seem to be just fine with being hateful towards one another.
Obviously, I know many amazing people within the Autism Community to whom most of this won't apply. You guys are amazing and I am blessed to call you friends. And of course, there will always be idiots out there who can meet 20 individuals with Autism and still not "believe" in it and spew their ignorance on the interwebs. Tis life. But maybe, just maybe, one person will read this and decides to do their Autism Awareness a little bit differently this year. Maybe he/she decides to support a fellow Autism Parent regardless of if she has a sticker on the back of their minivan that is a blue puzzle piece or one that says "Nuerodiversity Rocks!" I can live with that. I can live with that just fine.