The last few weeks have been pretty decent; I’d be lying if I said my home was filled with rainbows and sunshine. Ellis has made tremendous strides in pretend play and potty training, and I’m finally on my new RA meds which have improved my pain level tremendously. On the downside I’ve had another case of the stomach flu and am battling another dental infection that is causing me to feel tired and have lots of chest pain. I keep hoping that I’ll be able to get the recommended dental surgery done that I need so that I can continue to smile, sing and avoid these infections plaguing my body causing more heart issues. Right now paying for services for Ellis is my priority and as usual my health issues are on the back burner.
We are all guilty of making judgments and assumptions about others based on a quick interaction. I find that the internet has given people plenty of outlets to spew ignorance and judgment. The worst place is the comments section. Every article I read seems to have someone ranting about something they know absolutely nothing about in the comments section. When the CDC recently released the new statistics for children diagnosed with autism the comments on articles posted by various media outlets were insulting, heartbreaking and scary. Here are some of the ones I came across:
“Maybe one reason is that it’s an easy way to get parents to pay for medicine? Or perhaps many of those who are diagnosed are simply in need of better, or even some, discipline.”
“I’m interested in how easy it is to gain financially off of a bogus diagnosis of Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorders…similar to Traumatic Brain Injuries, which have very vague checklists for a diagnosis, but almost a guarantee for getting the kid on SSI/Disability for life. And a $800 a month payment deposited (usually) into the single mother’s bank account. I’d like to know how many of these families have maxed out their time on welfare and are using this as a scam to get SSI. With so many people hitting their five-year limits on welfare, they’re getting desperate. They outright refuse to work, and their only meal ticket is exploiting their kids to act out some phoney psychiatric condition. I agree Autism exists, but I find it questionable in most cases where there is a parental history of never working and always accepting welfare, food stamps and Section 8 housing.”
“Increased Diagnosis accounts for half of this, and the other half comes from awful parents who love having an excuse for their child’s rotten behavior.”
“Sometimes I wonder if the kid is just weird. There are kids who are naturally withdrawn. I think parents run to the doctor’s office and would rather it be something to medicate than actually help the child.”
“Seems like a rush to put labels on children. Autism Spectrum Disorder??? In my day a kid who was quiet, liked to count things, made good grades but socially awkward was a future accountant, doctor or just a smart geek.”
“Autism is the new ADD/ADHD. No way it is this prevalent. What IS prevalent are kids that are jerks and parents not doing their jobs.”
There are many people who would simply say that these comments only represent a small group of people or that they aren’t worth acknowledging. I would disagree. These are the people that my son will interact with as he gets older. According to www.autisminblack.com, an online reference for autism in the Black community “The perception in America is that Black youth are generally unruly, criminal, and frequent discipline problems. This is especially true for young Black boys.” We saw this first hand as our attempts to get answers regarding Ellis’s behavior had us berated with questions about if my husband was in the home, and assumptions that one of us was unemployed or on public assistance. As a black woman I know that some people will always see me as a stereotype. I feel that I have to know the negatives that are out there as well as the positives in order to be a great advocate for my child.
Recently God has opened my eyes to how many similarities there are between my journey with rheumatoid arthritis and my son’s with autism. When people first meet us they don’t automatically know that there is something different. If they take the time to interact with us they may see that I sometimes move a little slower than others or that his language is quirky and broken. Even if small things like these are noticed they still don’t see the full picture. In my dream world everyone is patient and empathetic, but alas it’s just a dream. Just like I have to deal with comments about not looking disabled enough to have a handicap placard my son will have to deal with snide comments as he gets older about his quirks. I’m glad that God has given me a window to understand my child better through my own journey and pain.