Sometime in my teens or twenties, I decided that I was a burden on society. How did I get to that conclusion, knowing my mother treated me with the dignity and respect that is so lacking in most autistic upbringing? My mother accepted autism the way it was, me the way I was, and worked from there, not knowing if I would achieve any form of neurotypical-passing potential. So, how did I come to a place of such negativity, that I contemplated suicide from being a burden?
The media is not on my side. Honestly, I can get an inkling of how those of a darker skin color than mine feel, due to the fact that I have been discriminated against in the media as well. People are well aware of the implications that linking autism to Adam Lanza and Eliot Rodger’s shootings has on people like me. People challenged the notions, but nobody decided to challenge the notion on a grand scale. I wonder what it would be like to be told your child was a potential killer…but I know there are people who don’t have to wonder. I think these notions put my life and the lives of many people in danger disproportionately. For comparison, the Jews were scapegoated like this on lesser charges of being greedy with money, and they were mass-murdered by the Nazis, with full approval of most governments at the time! If their lives can be put in danger, so can mine-easily.
And on another way to instill fear of autistics, why do people put videos of their child’s meltdowns on youtube? The child is in distress. Do you think that anyone in that much distress makes a good decision? It’s like they are in a naked pictures of them online? It’s like the meltdown is distress porn. What you are essentially saying when you post a video of a meltdown is this: “I want the whole world to know what a rotten sack of shit my child is!” I hope your child is taken away from you, parents who post meltdowns. If you can only see negativity, you will never see what your child is truly capable of.
The problem for me is that I have learned to internalize the negative images of an autistic being a burden to society. Maybe it came from the fact that my father never accepted autism in me, as though it were some monster never to speak of. Maybe it came from the fact that my sisters took and exploited me for every penny they could take, and begrudged me even for the air I breathed. They told me I was a “source of tension,” and exact quote, and a “psychotic sack of shit.” (Sound familiar?) These things they told me, they used me like a credit card, and one is still using my identity she stole to buy things. I have checked my credit reports. There are places I have never lived on them. But of course, they told me I was a burden, and I believed them. Perhaps this is part of the fog I have come out of. I even told myself I was a burden on society, and that the only way I could make the world a better place was to remove myself from it. I was headed down that road again when my sisters abandoned me, sending me back to my mother.
The reason I am doing this is because I want more people with autism to avoid my experience, to avoid believing that they are burdens on society for existing. I want them to know that they are just as precious in God’s eyes as anyone else. I had to be told after I was thirty that I was equal to the other people walking around and driving in the parking lot. I don’t want that to be the case of others like me. I want them to know they have the right to exist just like everyone else, and that they can make the world a better place in their own way.