“Mom, Can You Schedule a Colonoscopy for Me?” Snowplow Parenting and the Autistic

Now, let me give you some background: A person who needs a colonoscopy scheduled is usually around 50 years old. By that time, it’s a good bet their parent needs care themselves, if not already dead. That is often the problem with autistic people: their parents worry a lot about who will care for their child when they die. I’ve got a radical idea: why not prepare the autistic child to be capable of caring for themselves?  

Now, I know what you are saying: there are autistic people who still need 24-hour care. Perhaps you could teach and schedule somebody to trust with your child in that case…but I’m not talking about that case. I’m talking about an autistic person who can be taught to care for themselves. If you teach them to access community supports out there, and be their own advocate in a hateful and prejudiced world, you might not have to be the usual Snowplow Parent.  

I referenced Snowplow Parenting earlier, because it is common in parents of autistic children. Snowplow parenting is the parenting style that does everything for the child, moving all obstacles to success out of the way, like a snowplow. The trouble with that is, the child emerges into adult age unable to deal with obstacles themselves, needing the parent to care for them throughout their life, even when the parent needs care themselves. Now, many autistic adults have had to learn to “adult” as adults. That, my friends, is much harder to do than learning how to take care of yourself in childhood. You’ve heard the saying, “It is easier to raise a strong child than repair a broken adult,” right? It’s a saying for a reason.  

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In Case You Don’t Get It, I’m Pro Vaccine.

I had the chickenpox in fourth grade. 

I don’t even remember half of it, because I would sleep. I would itch, and pick at sores, and just be generally uncomfortable. I missed two weeks of school. I missed talking with my friends, too. Well, acquaintances. (It was hard for me to make friends.) And now I learn that the shingles virus is inside me? That I could get shingles?  The point is, I would never wish chicken pox on another person.  

When I heard that there was now a chicken poxvaccine, I was actually happy. Now, children do not have to experience itching, sores and fatigue, and shingles risk, to get strong against it.  

And now people want to give that safety up? Because autistic people like me exist? And they think the vaccines did it with no backup whatsoever besides their emotions? What is wrong with them?  

Of course, I did expect a few measles outbreaks would stem the tide. But so much measles! So much sickness! And those antivaxxers are stubborn as mules! 

Vaccinate your kids. You never know who isn’t.  

Selma Blair: More Gracious than Me

I’m noticing something on Twitter concerning Selma Blair and her fabulous Vanity Fair Oscar Party appearance. Many people tend to use certain words describing her and her MS revelation: Courageous. Brave. Tragic. Inspiring. All words which are highlights of ableism.  

She seems to be handling it better than I would.  

Unfortunately, I am often a ball of outrage and anger, especially when it comes to ableism. That’s all I’m saying about me.  

Let’s get back to Ms. Blair, shall we? I heard her say to another (cameras caught this), “It took a lot to get here.” So, she has limited spoons and probably used them all up in those days? Well, I appreciate her efforts, especially when she came out looking like she did. Personally, I think the whole ensemble, including the cane, made her look regal.  

And I would like to applaud her for her interview with Robin Roberts. It is rare that people give an interview when they have trouble speaking. It is a possible effect of the MS. (I learned a little of the symptoms some years ago when Montel WIlliams revealed his own diagnosis.) Her vulnerability showed her strength. It’s hard for me not to describe this in an ableist manner, for that’s what I’ve absorbed from society. What I mean is, when you have a disability, you live with the disability, and it’s a part of you. You will most likely be fine with it, as I have learned among us fellow disabled.  

Most people cannot find an example of living with a disability or condition, of a world that will not adapt to you, but I have. I remember, back in California, a small section of Santa Ana where everything is in Spanish. (Spanish speakers are here. Get over it.) I have had trouble learning Spanish, so spending time there was strange and uncomfortable, but it opened my mind. It made me realize that for many people, middle America is a strange and uncomfortable place. For the autistic, for those with chronic conditions, for those with skeletal dysplasia (dwarfism for the uninitiated), for those who speak a different language, for persons of color…even for women. Maybe even for you, middle America is a strange and uncomfortable place.  

I just wish that people would try and see the whole person, and not just fixate on the cane. It’s kind of like focusing on one little hand or arm when there is a whole person to look at. That is what creates the stigma surrounding disabilities. That is what makes the disabled feel unseen and marginalized.  

So, I’m pretty sure Selma Blair is resting now, as much as a mother can. I think she deserves it. Take care of yourself, Ms. Blair. You’ve done a lot for your causes recently.

Why Fight the Label?

Well, a few things came up. The first was this picture. 

Here are a few others you might be familiar with:  

Freak, Nerd and Rape Victim 

Yes, even Rape Victim. Every autistic woman I know has been raped at one time or another, even myself. My own experience is in the gray area, because I only consented to avoid saying I was raped. But on to the point: Your child will get a LABEL anyway. Make sure it’s a label that actually gets help.  

Another was the latest episode of Mom. It’s February 21, 2019. The title character on Mom (Bonnie Plunkett) learned she had ADD. And she’s in her sixties. And she’s fighting being sober from various drugs (and alcohol; I lump it in among the others). She had said her life was harder without the diagnosis. I must say, my life was hard, but living without a label, a diagnosis, is harder. And why do you want that for your child?  

#TimeToTalk Day 2019

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.” -Chinese Proverb  

Well, they are using this hashtag on Twitter right now to talk about mental illness.  

So, what do tree planting and talking about mental health have to do with each other? Well, for starters, there is a lot in common, as stated by the old proverb. Can you go back in time? Not that I know of. But can you start talking about mental health, plant that proverbial tree, now? Of course. 

Let’s talk about some myths: 

  1. “Mental illness has some rational beginning, and is reactive.”  Sometimes it does, but most of the time it does not. As I have stated before, even people on top of the world have mental illness to deal with. Robin Williams, for instance.  
  2. “Mental Illness only affects the people who act or look a certain way.” Would you be shocked if, and I am only saying if, Guy Fieri had depression? I would not. The losses of the once-strong Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain should have shaken that out of your mind.  
  3. “Mental Illness is character weakness.” This comes from the belief that you earn health and wealth through finding favor with your chosen deity – known in some circles as The Prosperity Gospel. But what happens if, say, you get a mental illness? Does that mean you are not good enough?  This false notion about mental illness believes you are not good enough… 
  4. “Mental Illness can be cured with willpower, vitamins and exercise.” Sorry, Tom Cruise, but this is simply not true in many cases. Denying the sufferer the medicine, the very thing that provides relief, is cruelty.  
  5. “Mental illness prevents you from holding down a job.” I HELD DOWN A JOB AT IN-N-OUT FOR SIX YEARS! Sorry for the shouting. This is simply not true. It is a corollary of the “character weakness” myth.  
  6. “Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why not just take a pill?” Because much of the time, “taking a pill” is only a start. Many of us need a support system.  
  7. “I can’t help.” Many, many people need your support. Just being there for them makes a big difference. It did with me.  
  8. “Prevention is impossible.” Ever heard of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? The core of it is TRAUMA. That is one of my own mental illnesses, thanks to people in my family.  

Mental health is coming out of the woodwork with or without you. It is connected to physical health as well. People are tired of losing their loved ones to suicide.   

Don’t Blame Me For That Measles Outbreak!

My mother gave me all the available vaccines. And no, that’s not why I am autistic. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk reason. Now there are outbreaks all over Europe and the United States thanks to people not vaccinating their children. And I wonder if they are blaming the autistic people like me for it. I mean, after all, most of the people not vaccinating their children blame their children’s autism on it. So, even if I am not blamed outright, I wonder if I am blamed in secret.  

I guess I wonder if I am paranoid, because so many people want to see me “Cured,” aka essentially destroyed.  

Willful Ignorance Not Welcome Here

I know my last post might have been offensive. I just hope it did not drive everyone away.  

Just so you know, the last post is in no way an endorsement of Jenny McCarthy, the Queen of the Antivaxxers / Vaccine Blamers. I do not support or endorse her opinion. What I meant to say in my last post was that she was similar to the flat earthers, who have ignorant answers to support a ignorant notion, such as a flat earth or blaming vaccines for autism. I guess they have to learn they are wrong the hard way.

I never supported willful ignorance.