Wednesday, April 30, 2014

BADD: parents are the worst ableists

Yes, I do mean that title. Parents are the worst ableists. As though they think nothing they do is wrong because they produced offspring.

Too bad being a shitty human being doesn't go away just because you had a disabled kid.

If you follow disabled people around the internet harrassing them, you are ableist and a shitty human being.

If your idea of fun is mocking the frankly horrific treatment disabled adults have undergone, you are ableist and a shitty human being.

If you spend your time complaining about how hard your life is because you have a disabled child, you're ableist and a shitty human being.

If you make up new identities for the sole purpose of harrassing disabled adults, you are ableist and a shitty human being.

If you claim it's ok because no one will do it to your kid because your kid will be different, you are ableist and a shitty human being with a side of victim blamer (and thus extra shitty).

If you act in opposition to your child's future civil rights because disabled adults don't kiss your ass enough, you are ableist and a shitty human being and a truly ghastly parent.

If it doesn't occur to you that your child will ever be an adult, you are ableist and a shitty human being and a truly ghastly parent.

If you raise money for people who kill their disabled children, you are ableist and a shitty human being and a truly ghastly parent who shouldn't have custody.

If you defend people who kill their disabled children, say "don't judge" or anything about their shoes, you are ableist and a shitty human being who should not be around children.

Working against your child's interests and future is the definition of "terrible parent". It doesn't suddenly become acceptable when the child in question has a disability. If you treat disabled adults like shit, there's really no way you treat your disabled child well either.

Being a parent shouldn't get you a lower standard. It should raise your standards for everyone else. If you think your child's disability means you should get slack for saying and doing things that would get you arrested if you did them to typical people?

You are a shitty human being.

You are ableist.

You should not have children.

And using your child's disability as your license to be a shitty human being? That is the biggest bullshit excuse that ever bullshat.

Parents who this isn't about? Maybe you should start collecting your folks instead of sitting idly by while they harrass and threaten disabled adults, while they defend hurting children, while they fundraise for murderers.

Being complicit in ableism is what allows it to continue. If this isn't about you, then make it really not about you: don't tolerate this behavior in your friends and acquaintences. If you tolerate it towards us today, you tolerate it towards your kid tomorrow. It's too late once they're an adult. 

The schoolyard bullies never grow up, they've been attacking the disabled kid since the dawn of time. Just standing by was cowardly then & it's cowardly now. If this isn't about brave.

If it is about you? Fuck off. You are a terrible human being and ableist and I will be here to pick up the pieces of your kid in a decade, but I want nothing to do with you.


Christschool said...

A more accurate headline would be "Some Parents".

ischemgeek said...

Woooow. You missed the point so thoroughly that you're heading off towards the Oort cloud while it's somewhere on Olympus Mons.

That you felt the need to point that out, even after the last two paragraphs, makes me pretty darn sure that what K was writing about is about you.

Mandy Garcia said...

I love your post.

Chickenpig said...

How about parents who don't consider their kids disabled? As my son says "I am not broken". And if it ain't broke...

You sound very angry, and very hurt. And you have a right to be. I wish that you didn't hurt so much. My sons abilities far outshine his difficulties. I don't know you, but I would bet yours do too.

chordatesrock said...

Chickenpig, disability and ability aren't mutually exclusive states. It's a good idea to focus on abilities, but some people have real difficulties that others don't, and need atypical kinds of support. Forgetting that tends to lead to putting square pegs in round holes and wondering why they don't fit when they're just as heavy and wooden as the other pegs.

lexi magnusson said...

Oh dear god. Stop projecting your asshole parents onto every other parent. You have no goddamn clue what it's like to be a parent of a child with autism. None.

Just because you share the same diagnosis of my child doesn't mean you get him any more than I understand my friend's neurotypical child because I myself am NT.

Wanting what is best for my child is not ableist. Wanting for him to have a mother that isn't at the end of her rope is not selfish. Be a parent before you tell other parents who they are or are not because you don't know a goddamn thing.

You just don't. You can speak to autistics about autism. But you have no fucking right to speak to parents about parenting.

~Lynnea said...

She said she was speaking to abelist parents, not all parents. Do you defend racists as well? She has every right to say what she did, and a million blessings on her head for being brave enough to say it. She is not projecting and you know it. You being defensive to what she said says more about you. I don't know if you can grow out of bigotry and bullying behavior, but I hope you can for your kids sake.

Neurodivergent K said...

Oh look Lexi Magnussen decided it's about her.

...which means it is. But not because I wrote it specifically about her. But bc she ID'd with the "shitty human being" things.

I don't NEED to project when there are people who are fundraising for murderers. Who are delivering nasty grams to autistic adults. Etcetera.

Not my fault some people are skidmarks.

ischemgeek said...

Also: Frankly, people who've been kids, who know how harmful things that well-meaning parents did were to them? Have every right to speak to parents about parenting. Or would you say that a gay person has no right to tell parents how harmful parental homophobia was to them, too?

It's the same damn thing.

Let's assume that every single parent in the world loves and wants their kids fiercely and wants nothing but the best for them. That's not true, but let's assume it for a moment. If those parents are told "The only way to do what's best for your kid and to make sure they grow into a happy healthy adult is to do this thing, even if it seems wrong and seems to cause suffering now," what do you think they'll do?

In these cases, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We live with the consequences of those good intentions. That gives us every right to warn parents off traveling the same road that our parents traveled.

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ischemgeek said...

..., sorry, hit enter too soon.

You know why we have that right? Because we've already been there. From the other side, sure, but we were there. Our perspective matters. In terms of the consequences of therapies and interventions, our perspective matters more than parental perspectives. Why? Quite simply: We're the ones who have to live with the consequences of what you do to us.

And over and over parents don't get that we don't do this to attack them. We do this because we care about your kid, too. We want what's best for your kid, too. We don't want other kids to go through what we went though. So if we see parents doing the same things our parents did - things that hurt us and caused us lasting pain - we want to stop that. We want to educate parents about our experiences, so that their kids can have better childhoods and happier adulthoods.

We are not judging you. We are offering our experiences as a cautionary tale, to help you. Just like gay & lesbian adults in the 80s and 90s and 00s warned parents not to disown and shame kids for being gay & lesbian, because it caused them immeasurable pain. The things we get angry over and yell about? Those hurt us. Those caused us pain. Immense pain. Lasting pain. They traumatized us.

And most of us did not have nearly as malicious parents as K did, but our parents still hurt us, even if they thought and claimed they were acting in our best interests. K's life is an extreme case, but it is not out-of-place with an overall pattern that teaches autistic kids that everything about them is wrong and broken. Do you want to teach your kid that who they are is broken and wrong?

We don't want you to, either.

Lei said...

Wanting what is best for your child is not ableist, unless what you think is best for your child is colored by your ableist views.

Also, if you want to be separated from shitty, ableist parents, don't spend your time commenting about how you're not an ableist by doing the very things being written about here.


If defensive parents spent half as much time fighting for their kids rights and humanity as they do feeling sorry for themselves and making it all about them, this would be a much better world for Autistic people to live in.

Can you even imagine?

I am a parent, and though I am also Autistic, I have learned a lot from reading this blog (not to mention the wealth of information I get from all of my Autistic friends). It has made me a better parent to my Autistic child.

Morénike said...


I don't know you, but I guess I pass the test to be able to offer my opinion. Because I had/have great parents, I am autistic, and I have kids who are autistic too.


One doesn't have to be a parent to have insight and understanding that is relevant. Yes, autism can present in a variety of ways and not *everything* Kassiane, or me, or John Doe experiences is the same as your child/children. But there are typically some (often many) things that are in common as a result of the shared diagnosis; how else would there be able to be diagnostic criteria?

Don't dismiss someone for not having exactly the same experiences. My male OB does not share my experience of giving birth, but the man knows a heck of a lot about pregnancy and deliver. More than I do, that's for sure, even though I "went through it" and he didn't.

You are absolutely correct that parents SHOULD desire the best for their children, should work hard to be emotionally capable of parenting in a healthy manner, should have expectations and goals for their children. Absolutely.

But Kassiane is right in her assertion that many of the worst offenders regarding ableism and other harmful perspectives are parents. It may be a hurtful point, but that doesn't make it untrue. And just because it doesn't apply to certain people doesn't mean it applies to no one. Unfortunately, it applies to a heck of a lot of people!

I used to take offense when I read adult autistics' comments about parents. I thought they were angry and inaccurate. It was so drastically different from my life experience, where my (undiagnosed) autism was accepted and even in some ways celebrated, that I thought that views such as hers were "way off."

As I came to learn more, I realized I was wrong. My home was the exception, NOT the rule. The only person who was "way off" was ME. There are a lot of parents unintentionally and intentionally working against, not in, the best interest of their children's self esteem, growth, mental health, and future stability. Definitely not everyone; there are many great, loving, accepting parents. But that doesn't negate the fact that there are also many crappy parents too.

I haven't endured from my parents the horrific parental abuse Kassiane and many other autistics have had to endure. Yet I share their desire to prevent other people--today's kids and young adults on the spectrum-- from going through it. And regardless of your personal opinion of her, we should all want that, and work toward that. THEY are the ones who need our energy, our attention, our concern. Not the self-pitying abusers.


Morénike said...

And...if anyone thinks that they have any justification for defending abusers and murderers, than they have far bigger problems than I can imagine. You can be a good parent, an okay parent, or a sorry parent. But if you abuse and/or kill your child and try to excuse your actions by blaming the child's disability, then you aren't a parent any longer as far as I'm concerned. You are a monster. said...

Clearly, there are enough asshole parents to warrant this blog post. One need only look at the way that "parents" treat Autistic adults...making up false identities for the purpose of tormenting Autistic people over the abuse that they have suffered is but one of the indicators. I have no doubt that those capable of this type of malicious behavior are not the type of people capable of raising Autistic children with the love that they deserve.

I'm a parent. It does not threaten me or offend me to hear that Autistic people do have a better understanding of what my daughter needs in order to thrive. Of course, there are ways that I have unique understanding of my child. But these two realities exist in parallel to one another. Railing that I know my child would be absurd and detrimental to both my child and me.

Listening to Autistic adults makes my life easier. It makes it easier to parent my child. I have a non-speaking child who requires 24 hour care. And I'm not at the end of my rope. I'm not feeling short of services. Like all parents, I have my bad days. But those days are far outnumbered by the number of good days we have. And I'm more than happy to tell anyone that will listen that input from Autistic adults is an essential ingredient in both my parenting and my overall happiness. Listening to Autistic adults actually helps me to provide what is best for my child. Those that are feeling overwhelmed and at the end of their ropes should give it a try. It doesn't hurt. I promise.

Michelle said...

I am so glad I read this.

K, as usual, your voice is a solid reminder to me of how important it is to listen to Autistic adults.

You may not be a parent yet, but your experience as a child who was very similar to my children is invaluable to me, as it gives me an insight into what they are likely to experience, and it reminds me what to look out for when I am supporting them.

I am immensely grateful for you, and other Autistic adults, who take the time to speak out- at great cost to yourself- and advocate for children.

I am sad to admit that in the past I was a parent who felt sorry for myself. Listening to the voices of Autistic adults, who taught me so much that contradicted the mainstream message of "Autism is a tragedy and can be blamed for so many of a parents difficulties", has been the single most liberating thing I have done as a parent. It was thanks to you, and advocates like you, that my perspective was changed. Thank you.

And to Lexi- the fact that you are so defensive about this post makes me think that at least some of it applies to you.

Your assertion that K can't speak with relevance to parents is mind-boggling.

Surely when you became a parent there were at least a couple of things you vowed never to do to your kids because you didn't like that your parents had done them? It's the same thing.

It really is so simple.... if someone who has experienced something tells you it hurt them, and they are a person who is a lot like your child, chances are your child will tell you the same thing as they get older. I truly don't understand why this is a problem for people to understand.

I'd have thought that as a person who says she wants the best for her children, instead of blankly dismissing what Autistic adults say, you would at least want to think over whether what they say could apply to your situation, even if what they are saying feels confronting?

Or maybe not. I've seen you around the internet enough to know that it's unlikely anything I say will make an ounce of difference. Your harsh and dismissive words to K are testament to that. And if you've already made up your mind, and know that K won't change her mind, why do you still troll her page??

vicki blum said...

I have had the honor of spending time with N.K. She is one of the most loving,caring and compassionate people I have ever met.[and believe it or not,gentle; but in an extraordinarily powerful way]

I can think of no one that I would trust with my [now adult] Autistic son or Autistic grand kids to the extent I would N.K.

She has made it her purpose in life to advocate for, defend, build up, and fight for acceptance,and accomodation for every Autistic young person. And she wants every Autistic child to be aware of his/her unique "awesomeness."

Oh, and when she sees Autistic kids being called a burden, an epidemic, a tragedy, she gets pissed! And when she hears about an Autistic child being hurt or considered anything less than an incredible blessing,she gets pissed.

Thank you N.T. for standing up for our kids. Thank you for caring enough about the happiness and well being of our kids to state truths even if that causes some people to turn against you..I have NO issues with the way you go about doing what you do, but even if I did, I would still be beyond grateful for your passion for, and your love of,our kids.

I CANNOT see how any loving parent could see it any other way.

aspielazuli said...

Thanks for the lines.
And what -unfortunately- is even more sh*tty than sh*tty parents, are self-justifying sh*tty parents.

Chickenpig said...

loveexplosions is 100% right on this one. I come here to hear what it means to have come out on the other side. I want my son to grow up feeling accepted for everything that he feel loved and supported without being stifled or put in a box. The way I see it, the only way I can help make that happen is to listen, both to my son, and to autistic adults, to keep me on the path.

The fact that I focus on my sons abilities and not his difficulties is part of that. Seriously, choredatesrock, emphasizing and working with the positive works, and trust me, my son loves being the biggest, bad ass, amazing square peg there is. And every person in his team wants him to be the biggest, most bad ass, square peg he wants to be too. Because who wants to be a round peg? I am not blind, or naïve, about my sons difficulties, but I also don't feel burdened, stressed, angered, isolated, or any other thing about them. And I'm doing my damndest to make sure my son feels the same.

ischemgeek said...

Chickenpig, it sounds like you do have the right idea. I would caution you not to try to hide his difficulties from him, though, and as he grows, to be cautious about telling him how he should identify.

Here's the thing: most I've met people who call themselves disabled don't think that disabled = broken. We think that disabled = society isn't set up to meet our needs. Disabled = broken thing is an ableist trope. We're not broken. But it would erase our challenges to try to pretend we're not disabled by the society we live in.

But that's a semantic point and not what I'm really worried about. What I'm really worried about is this: Hiding his disabilities from him.

My parents did that. They went so far as to block me getting an official diagnosis so that I wouldn't be treated differently in school. Because they were worried that if I knew I was disabled, I would limit myself or the school would limit me. The problem is, because I didn't know I was(am) disabled, I didn't know how to self-accommodate. I didn't know how to modify my habitat and habits to enable me to function in the allistic world. I couldn't take advantage of the knowledge of other autistics, because I didn't know that I was autistic, nor did I know that my difficulties were more varied and more severe than what others deal with, especially on the social and organization and handwriting fronts.

My parents wanted me to avoid growing up in an excuse mentality. Sure, they knocked that out of the park. Problem: I feel I am a failure if I cannot out-perform and out-allistic allistic people. Which is impossible for me because I am autistic. I am a perfectionist. I feel I am a failure as a person if I mess up at all ever. And being perfect is impossible because I'm human. So I feel like a failure as a human being a lot.

That's what not telling kids about their disabilities does to them. They measure themselves by their peers and find themselves wanting. They either become convinced they're all the bad things adults around them say they are and give up or they internalize those messages of must-try-harder and must-be-perfect and marks-dictate-your-worth and overwork themselves into exhaustion trying to appear non-disabled. Neither of these is helped by the constant refrains from adults who likewise don't know they're disabled of "This isn't hard!" and "You're a smart kid, you can do better than this!" and "I'm not asking you to be perfect or anything, just to actually apply yourself for once. Stop being so lazy." and so on and so forth.

Some parents tell me that I'm a good role-model for their kids because I'm a woman with chronic illnesses and disabilities who is successful. I want to tell them they're kidding themselves, but in meatspace, I haven't figured out how to do that in a way that doesn't result in the parent exploding at me. But the fact is this: I would much rather your kid grow up with happiness and self-acceptance and knowing what accommodations work for them than grow up to be me.

ischemgeek said...

^ I should note in my previous post that I don't know if you are hiding his disabilities from him. I'm worried that you are because a lot of adults who "don't consider" their kid disabled, I find, don't tell their kid that their kid has disabilities. And that kind of self-knowledge is important. It's armor against the mean and hateful things that will be said to your kid when you're not around. Because if your options to your knowledge are "lazy," "apathetic," and "st***d," how do you think you'd think about yourself?

Now imagine "autistic" is one of the options. And suddenly it's not a moral failing on your part, it's a disability that needs accommodation. I can't stay organized, not because I'm too lazy to or because I don't care enough or because I'm too st***d, but because I'm autistic and that causes executive function issues. Common ways of dealing with those executive function issues are X, Y, and Z. How about I try those? Hey, X and Z aren't that useful, but Y really works. I can do this after all, but I just have to do it differently!

That's my point about the armor. It gives you an explanation for having a hard time with stuff that isn't "I suck as a person". Because if your options for having trouble with stuff always boil down to, "I fail as a person," sooner or later you start thinking of yourself as a failure as a human being.