The entertainment industry, allied with know-nothings on social media who will say or retweet anything for a jolt of virtue-dopamine, is advancing a meme best summarized as “autism is a gift.” According to the meme, Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory being a good representative, autism is just about being a really smart guy with little to no social skills.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’m dad to an almost five year old son who is diagnosed moderate-severe autistic, and I have the scratches, bite marks, and scars, to prove it. Depending on the spectrum/scale/whatever you use, he would be on ASD 2.5 or something similar.
He goes to school at the elementary school just down the street from us, where he’s in something called Child Find, Nevada’s public program for early intervention with developmental issues. He is in the Pre-K class, and will be moving up to kindergarten next year. He sees a speech pathologist. Everyone at his school, from principal to janitor, are excellent people who truly care about the children. The three women who run the class he’s in, especially, are saints.
But I’m not.
I can’t stand that kid.
I seriously can’t. The hitting, biting, scratching, crashing down on me WWE style when I’m just trying to sit on the couch. The amount of cuts, bruises, and times he’s injured me are getting to be too damn much.
I get that he doesn’t get that he’s hurting other people. The wiring isn’t there.
His older brother who’s seven is suffering for it too, since it’s constantly a litany of “don’t hit back,” “don’t respond in kind,” “it doesn’t do any good/he’ll just hurt you worse.” He’s gone from being a sweet, awesome little guy into someone who’s majorly angry, a lot, and I can’t blame him. I’m right there with him.
His autistic little brother damn near broke my nose headbutting me when I was trying to just get a shirt on him, and I almost blew up and started hitting him. I recognize that it wouldn’t do anything other than result in CPS taking him away. But if it was an adult? I’d probably have ended up in jail on assault charges.
He wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, less if he’s sleeping in my bed. Right now, his trick is blatantly putting coins in his mouth, and then taking off running when you try to stop him.
And then there’s the constant threat of him just taking off. Forgot to set the lock that’s out of his reach on the front door? There’s a good chance he’s taking off outside and booking down the street without the sense that god gave a baby duck. The number of times he’s slipped out of my hand and taken off towards the street are too numerous to count at this point.
I’m at the point where I just can’t do it anymore.
I feel guilty every time I’m late at work, go to the gym, go run errands, or anything like that since it means my wife has to be home alone with him, putting up with the same behaviors and trying to play referee.
He makes it impossible to do anything, even something as simple as folding laundry, since he just has this compulsion to wreck anything and everything that’s organized. The laundry is going to be strewn across the house five minutes later.
If I wouldn’t feel like the biggest piece of shit and failure on the planet, I’d say fuck it and leave.
I can understand why there are so many single moms of autistic kids. It’s literal hell.
I have the misfortune to live in Nevada, home of the 49th lowest level of compensation for ABA therapy specialists, so the wait lists to start are minimum six months, more realistically a year plus depending on who you can see with your health insurance. But, of course, there’s no cure for autism.
And the best part? I can’t say a fucking word of this to anyone I know. Because then I’m a horrible person.
Fuck everyone who says that autism is a gift.
Update: Here’s a heartbreaking story from Arizona that touches many of the same issues. –Editor
Grandmother kills severely autistic grandchildren after daughter committed suicide while attempting to care for the severely autistic children. Autism is *not* a gift. These caretakers are desperate. https://t.co/2PgS3q1gJH
— Vaccine Course (@VaccineCourse) January 31, 2020
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