Day: October 23, 2008

  • the stupid vs. the catatonic


    In the November 2008 issue of Hallmark Magazine is a story by Ann Bauer titled "My Other Son".  It's a fairly directionless trip down memory lane as a divorced parent with 3 kids, one of them autistic.  What struck me hardest about the story was how briefly she was able to mention that her autistic son was not only misdiagnosed, but mistreated for schizophrenia to the point of catatonia and 'rescued' from his catatonic state with electroshock therapy.  But the story was not about him.  Was it?  I sure couldn't tell.  I think it was about the other son, who apparently 'got it' about his brother when no one else did (which wasn't very well brought to light in the story), begging to be with him and help ~as a person~ when everything else kept getting in the way.  Like drugs.  Institutionalization.  Electroshock therapy.
    There but for the grace of God go I.  I read stories like that and just cringe at all the stuff I've gone through that *I* thought was bad, but some go through so much worse.
    I'll tell ya, parents who feel the need to pursue 'fixing' autism to the point of a child's utter misery for many years is one of the saddest things I've heard of since medieval torture devices used in the judicial system.
    The saddest part of that story, to me, was that the autistic child didn't get as much remorse or sympathy as the other child who had to deal with growing up without a father and having an autistic brother.  And a mom who seemed to handle her problems by crying over several glasses of wine with a friend.  (The story was so vague, it just begs for generalization like this.)  I'm sorry, but that didn't invoke any sympathy in my mind for anyone but the autistic kid.  Good lord, can you *imagine* someone forcing you to take drugs to the point of being catatonic and having to go through electroshock therapy over it???????  And I am guessing I'm supposed to feel sorry for the mom or something, I don't know.  What was her motivation for writing this?  To get autistic kids out of institutions?  I think that point was completely lost in the attempt to play up the brother who cared, but that line of thought itself was so interrupted that I had a hard time with trying to figure out the other random things being brought up and discarded.
    This really has to stop.  I guess I was fortunate that my mother only tried to 'fix' me herself, to the point of such severe abuse that I was poisoned nearly to death at the age of 14 by her own hand.  She was removing 'toxins' from my body with something so restricted that you can't even find it in health food stores.  I went through continual 'fixing' throughout my entire childhood, and the only way I survived was learning to lie and not obey.  Why?  Because I was different.  Not because I was the smartest kid in class or because I was a hard worker at chore time or because I had anything physically wrong with me.  It was because I DIDN'T SMILE, and I DIDN'T HAVE FRIENDS, and I have weird habits and strange thoughts about God and couldn't help stimming and embarrassing my mother to the point of teachers begging her to take me to psychiatrists.
    By the way, if you are a parent of an autistic child and are still freaking out about autism being caused by immunizations, would you PLEASE read these articles.  There is proof out there that autism is global, it's a natural brain phenomenon, and it's NOT necessarily caused by agents from outside the body after the child is born.  I find this stuff because I am Mennonite, I didn't have the immunizations, and I was born like this.
    And when you're done with that, see if you can comprehend this poem from


    Cindy Earnshaw

    when they first
    notice me in the world
    or perhaps
    I have already been
    too smart
    all hope for me
    no point of possibility
    with them
    the truth will
    forever sound of lying
    from my
    they will steer towards where
    I have somehow always
    and I
    will search
    and search again to know
    their algebraic paths
    my massive mind
    monstrously mocking brilliant me
    mock me too
    standing there ahead
    of them
    and groping back behind
    all the while
    there in
    the stupid.

    © Cindy Earnshaw

    If you didn't get that, we aspies feel like we are drowning in the stupidity of others.  I would compare it to being locked away in a sort of mental concentration camp, with virtual razor wire and guns all around me, constantly judging that I am different.  Would I have been better off being stupid?  Being one of the people who believed that pressing someone to death under a pallet of stones or stretching them on a rack would make them more likely to be 'honest'?  Because it wasn't that long ago, any 'smart' person knew that the lower classes couldn't help being dishonest criminals and witches.

    Is there any difference now?  Will the hocus pocus around Asperger's ever stop?

    I am one of the very lucky ones.  I can bridge the gap between two worlds with my words.  But does anyone listen?

    This will never end until parents learn that it's ok for people to be who they are.  Down Syndrome children are understood and accepted, but autistic children need to be 'fixed'.  If a Down Syndrome child went through overdrugging to the point of catatonia to the point of institutionalization and electroshock therapy, that story would be an outrage.  Why is it ok to openly talk about how easy it is to torture people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome?

    I can feel for parents of autistic children.  I don't think Ann Bauer is a bad person.  But neither was my mother, was she?  She was only desperately trying to 'fix' me.  She completely missed who I ~am~.  And when I got grown up and was able to start trying to have real conversations about real things in life, I was shunned for not believing the world works the way my mother believed it works.  There was no hope for love or forgiveness for being *me*.  My brain works differently, so there is something 'wrong' with me.

    I mourn for those who have been forced to the point of becoming catatonic and going through electroshock therapy in the name of mental health, only because they go deep in themselves for awhile.

    My survival mechanism was one of desperation, trying to decipher years of punishment, find the pattern, find the escape route, find peace.  There is no peace when people expect continual response, and every response has to be judged and found wanting, and every response feels baited, and every response brings emotional or physical pain of some kind, and there is no response that can buy peace and love and forgiveness.

    Sadly, what I just described is not limited to autistic children.  Children are abused everywhere because parents are stupid, single minded, blinded by something they believe or hear, fearful that something is wrong, or simply because the parents are mean or have mental illnesses themselves.  This isn't just an autism problem, this is a PARENTING problem.  This is a SOCIAL NETWORK problem.  And when all else fails, ask who is making the MONEY on the problem.  Health care, insurance, pharmaceuticals, social services, education- these are all big businesses with big money behind them.  Question why the world says your kid ~has~ to be "NORMAL".  Question why you are accepting what you are told and jumping through hoops instead of trusting your own instincts.

    It's OK to just love your child.  Get it?


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