|Created by Ezra Katz, Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons
[image: Simplified all-black figures of an adult holding the hand of a child
while they stand side-by-side, on a yellow background.]
Autistic Science Person
I am exhausted by non-autistic parents who:
- Ignore the experience of autistic people who went through ABA
- Say ABA “was never like that” for their child
- Assume their child cannot be traumatized long-term because they “seem happy”
- Think we’re saying they’re trash parents
You can’t speak for your kid. You can’t know what they think, what they feel, and what may have caused them long-term trauma that they’ll have to work through.
You. Can’t. Know. That. Right. Now.
And then I try to remember that when I’m talking to one parent who is speaking over their kid and their experience, five or ten parents are reading that exchange and may be learning from it.
But, honestly it is exhausting to be told as an autistic person that you are somehow vilifying non-autistic parents by letting them know through blog posts, research articles, and primary sources, that ABA is abuse.
I know this might be surprising but we autistics care about autistic kids.
That is, truly, the only reason why I continue to have conversations with parents who are in denial, who gaslight autistic experiences, and claim that we’re calling them bad parents.
All we want you to do is just get info to help your kid. Not to insult or vilify you.
Autistic adults are constantly attacked through misguided feelings of non-autistic people who were told to get this therapy for their kid, and who are now having to face feelings of failure or of betraying their kid because we autistic adults tell them those therapies are actually harmful to autistic kids like we were. And while some parents do face their feelings, others lash out at us with words—and that’s honestly horrible.
I hate that autistic adults have to put up with non-autistic parents’ feelings of inadequacy or doubt or shame or failure. These parents should care about and welcome our input, not harass us and call us bullies. Where is the empathy and compassion so boasted by non-autistic people?
Sometimes these interactions with parents ruin my whole day. It just feels so inconsiderate but mostly— so illogical! Wouldn’t you want to know if a therapy your child was in was harmful to them? Wouldn’t you want to know if your child was in conversion therapy?
I would never not want to know something that could prevent my, or someone else’s, pain. I would never not want to know how to help someone I love! It puts me in an executive function loop of why? Why would you want to remain ignorant about this? Why would you not investigate?!
Why not, just to make sure, would you want to sit in on the therapy or take more precautions, or reduce the hours and just see how it goes? Why would you not want that information and have your kid continue something Which Has The Possibility Of Harming Them? Shouldn’t just the possibility of harm to your child be enough to want to listen?
I truly do not know why some parents don’t want to listen to autistic adults. I truly, truly don’t know. There is so much good autism information for parents from autistic adults, and so much of it is freely available, and yet the parents choose not to know.
I will never know why.
Article based on the author’s recent Twitter thread.