Ignorance Shows Itself

"violent autistic and asperger's sufferers should be locked up indefinately to keep the general public safe from their outbursts and actions. there is no way to prove that an autistic child with autism or aspergers syndrom will not massacre a classroom full of kids and therefore society must be protected from their threat."

Yes, Virginia, people are that ignorant and vile. In a news story about the attempted murder of an autistic adolescent, instead of focusing on the person who tried to kill her child, an individual decided the real takeaway from this is the forced institutionalization of autistics who act aggressively.

Uh-oh. Following that logic, anybody who's ever punched a wall, thrown something across the room, thrown a punch, kicked someone, bit someone needs to be locked up, After all, you never know when they might snap and go postal.

Perhaps the biggest mistake we make on the internet is reading people's comments on news stories because that's where humanity's dumbasses come out of the woodwork and reveal their bigotry, hatred, and ignorance.

And yet, maybe that's what we do need to attend to. There, people who comment in anonymity are free to let their hate flow onto the internet.

I think it would be a terrible omission as parents to forget there are people out there just waiting to hurt our children (and I don't distinguish here--we are all vulnerable). We need to remember that the world has more than its fair share of mean, cruel, and sadistic people and that sometimes, that may even be us--if we use the cloak and lash out at those we've decided are lesser than us, then we're part of the problem too.

People, even dumbasses who spew their hate and ignorance, should never be divided into better than or lesser than. All life should be sacred, and the emotional well-being of others should be considered.

Oops. Am I being hypocritical by calling those people dumbasses then? This is something I've wrestled with for four years, ever since I started the blog Even Dumbasses Have Feelings and wrote under the character of Thelma and Mama Hazel...

I think not because I'm not laboring under the impression that I am better than the person spewing the ignorance. Now, if said person realized I'd used his/her comment to lead this discussion on ignorance, would that have an impact on that person's well-being? I doubt it would have a negative impact--those people have shielding that prevents valid criticism from getting through.

I'm still sick to my stomach, literally, over the attempted murder of a child not much older than my girls. I'm still heartbroken at the thought of what Issy will have to live with--the knowledge that her mother tried to kill her. I'm still devastated for Matt and Issy's two siblings who are grappling with Kelli's actions. Those actions broke that family in a way that Issy's aggression never could.

I'm also sickened by the extremists, those who argue that not only are Kelli's actions entirely understandable, they don't warrant being charged with a crime. "You don't know how hard it is to live with an autistic child."

Bullshit. I know what it's like to live with three. And while it's not all rainbows and unicorns, there are surprisingly a fair share of rainbows and unicorns.

And no, don't tell me I don't know what it's like to live with a kid who acts out aggressively, either. Because I do.

Of course we as parents need support and training. We DO. We need to know how our behavior triggers our children's behavior, how to be consistent in our parenting skills and how to always honor our children's right to bodily integrity.

We like to put ourselves first, to think that people's actions that affect us are inflicted directly against us, but if you've spent anytime outside your narcissistic shell, you know that children sometimes push our buttons on purpose, but most of the time they're just being kids. It's us who take it personally.

Bottom line, when you become involved in raising children or working with children, you don't get to put yourself first--to think that when someone acts, those actions were meant to provoke you or fuck with you in some way. If you let yourself be swayed by children's actions and acting out behaviors as personally directed at you--if you put yourself central--you're human but you're wrong.

Harden your soft candy coating and get over yourself. You have to because when you are raising children or teaching children, you have to put them first and you can't let them hurt you so that you lash out. You have to practice restraint. You have to think before acting, and you have to consider where the child is coming from and what the child is trying to communicate. You don't get to hit back, with words or hands.

Ignorance...it's a massive stumbling block to changing how people see those with disabilities.

Unintentional ignorance can be mediated. Unfortunately, altering willful deliberate ignorance is another matter entirely...as is selfishness and self-centeredness.


Ben Forshaw said...

Well said! This is dangerous ground: while I'm certainly not going to suggest that aggression is not a problem, sensitive handling can often effect an outcome that is better for all concerned.

The statement you quote "there is no way to prove that an autistic child with autism or aspergers syndrome will not massacre a classroom full of kids" is a shocking example of misdirection. The fact is that there is no way to prove that any individual will not perform a given action. Or in more concrete terms, there is no way to prove that the ignorant bigot who wrote that line will not turn up at your door with a loaded weapon and murder your whole family.

Sheesh! This kind of thing makes me so angry... This kind of person, capable of such bigotry and hatred is the kind I would think more likely to "go postal". Will we see them institutionalized because of their violent attitude towards the likes of me and you?

There is such a world of difference between the expressions of aggression by a minority of autistic children and adolescents -- yes, they are capable of harming themselves and others but it is not driven by hatred; rather it is an instinctive response to some trigger, not unlike the aggression shown by an animal in pain -- and the vindictiveness of bigots, extremists and others who have the mental attitude of bullies to persecute those they see as weak or simply different.

The truth of the matter is, as numerous tragic events around the world have demonstrated, that sometimes people do make a choice to murder numbers of innocents. Some of the perpetrators have been autistic, many more have not. This suggests strongly that autism is not the cause of such tragedies: autistic people are no more -- or less -- able to commit these acts than the rest of the population. Focusing on a subset of that population is to close your eyes to the likelihood that the next killer will not come from that relatively small group.

Sharon Morris said...

"Of course we as parents need support and training. We DO. We need to know how our behavior triggers our children's behavior, how to be consistent in our parenting skills and how to always honor our children's right to bodily integrity. "

This ^^^^, Ive been thinking a lot about this. I really do think this is a major issue, particularly around aggression.

As for the ignorant commenters? Fuck them!