It appears that once again, due to my nutty renegade opinions, I am in danger of having my “World’s loudest and craziest Autism Mom” card revoked. Actually, I’ve never had any desire to carry that card in the first place, which has made me a bit of a black sheep in the “Autimom” community from the very beginning.
I’m annoyed at the recent hoopla surrounding author Temple Grandin (who happens to have autism) and her HBO movie. I’m even more annoyed at the scoldings that I’ve been receiving for voicing my opinion about Grandin and said HBO movie. I thought we had moved past the days where we were all supposed to support “our own kind” (not my term!) no matter WHAT we thought about their actions, but apparently not.
Don’t get me wrong, I suppose it’s great that the woman has gone to college and become a published author. When I first heard of Temple Grandin, I was very much intrigued by her and picked up several of her books. Her blatant hatred of pit bulls immediately left a bad taste in my mouth–pits are very important to me and to my entire family. Although I did get an ironic giggle out of reading Temple’s anti-pit bull blathering at the exact moment that I was watching my 2 year old son learn to walk by pulling up and steadying himself on our pit bull Josie. But beyond the pit bull propaganda, Miss Grandin just doesn’t sit right with me for more substantial reasons as well.
For one thing, she’s made a career out of perfecting machines for slaughter houses and spent a good deal of her time aiding the industries that make millions off of animal death. Yet the woman calls herself an animal advocate and claims to be able to communicate with creatures on a different level due to her autism. Really? Let me translate a message from the animals for you Temple; They’d think it was really cool if you stopped killing them!
Also, I quickly tired of her blanket “Autistic people ___” statements. The notion that an individual with autism could speak for all others with autism is beyond absurd. She speaks at length about how hard it is for her to read and express emotion and about how she has no sense of humor, which are common traits of autism according to her. As the mother of a severely autistic child who not only is incredibly affectionate and emotional but who also happens to have a wicked sense of humor, these statements just plain piss me off. What point do these blanket statements serve, other than to perpetuate stereotypes and myths about people with autism when there is certainly more than enough prejudice against the developmentally disabled to begin with?
So there it is, all out on the table. I DON’T care for this women and I refuse to respect her just based on the singular fact that she has autism and a college degree. Gasp in terror if you must. But in my opinion, ALL of our children with autism are full of potential and capable of achieving amazing levels of success. So if you want to give someone a pat on the back just because they have autism and they’re not drooling in a corner somewhere, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that makes YOU the prejudiced one, not me.
In fact I’ll take this a step further and tell you that I think many more of our children with autism would end up in college (as opposed to mental facilities and prisons) if they didn’t have to fight so hard for even the most basic of rights which are often guarantees for neurotypical people; take for instance a decent education. Maybe HBO should run a special about that?