Opinion piece by Journalist shows no understanding of Autism or intellectual disability

A facebook friend in Australia has a son with Autism. I have a good understanding of the issues she talks about as I have a sibling who is intellectually disabled. I also worked for IHC for two years. The other day my friend shared the below Facebook post that was written by a Laura Miller about her experience with a man who is probably Autistic.

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The story was picked up by media after journalist Clementine Ford wrote an opinion piece about it for dailylife.com.au

Clementine’s article showed how completely ignorant she is of Autism and intellectual disability.

The only difference is that this time they’re throwing the disabled community under the bus by putting on a pretence of support for disability rights while essentially arguing disabled men are sexless, childlike and incapable of understanding boundaries.

Even if that were true – which it isn’t – women are not obliged to humour them at the expense of their own feelings of safety.

-dailylife.com.au

I can confirm right now that intellectually disabled men are often child like and sometimes do not understand boundaries just like little children do not understand boundaries. It depends on the level of impairment.I looked after a sweet Autistic man who couldn’t speak and who was unable to shower himself. He would be in his own little world turning around and around in the shower while I did my best to use the shower head to rinse him off. One day I took him to Rainbows end. He held my hand and walked along, guided by me in every way, lost in another world. People stared at us and I soon realised that he had an erection that was tenting his track pants. It was very embarrassing for me but I understood that he was just a little boy inside and not even aware of what was going on outside his inner world. He wasn’t trying to touch me, he wasn’t sexually interested in me, he wasn’t sexually interested in anyone at Rainbows End. To a reporter like Clementine ?who lacks understanding of Autism, he would be described as if he was a?sex offender.

My friend who has an autistic son had this to say about Clementine:

As most of you would be aware, and for those that are new on my friends list and don?t know, I am the mother of two kids with disabilities. There?s a part of me that is reluctant to write this post, given that it is 2016 and the majority of decent people are aware of autism and the challenges that are faced by people with autism, but have enough decency and humanity to be mindful of their differences and social inhibitions. But my role as their mother isn?t just to mother them, it is to be their advocate, to be their voice. And it is clear that after the recent posts by Clementine Ford that this post is necessary. To those people that are tolerant and understanding of those with disabilities this post is not directed at you, but at the disgraceful social justice warriors, like Clementine Ford, who saw fit to not only attack a man based on misinformation and absolute ignorance, but took it further to make her own mental assessment, without a PhD I might add, on whether this man was or was not autistic.

Dear Clementine.

You are the very reason I am reluctant to take my children out in public. I want my children to be raised feeling loved, valued and respected for who they are regardless of the challenges they face. My children, given their disabilities, are well behaved most of the time and are disciplined according to their level of understanding. Regardless of their disabilities, they have been raised as normally as possible. They are treated with respect and dignity, like any other member of our family, with the hope that society will treat them the same.

But still, beyond the front door of my home, their home, remains people like you. Bullies. Bullies that are prepared to attack, criticise and make wrong assumptions based solely on ignorance or worse still, as a means to use children like mine, to score some kind of political points amongst your social justice warrior peers. And when I look around and see the level of behaviour that comes from feminists like your self, the likes of Triggly Puff, the likes of Destroy the Joint, then I am at a loss to explain how you believe that you have some kind of moral high ground in attacking those who?s social skills are different to others because of their autism. I am gobsmacked that as a feminist and a social justice warrior, who by definition is supposed to be about advocating for the rights of the marginalised, the weaker in society, the minorities?that you could find it acceptable to attack a man based on the fact you don?t understand his behaviour. Oh, and to make it even worse, you weren?t even there?you just saw the photo and a story and ran with it, using it as a means to politically point score. As a ?proud feminist? you have spent a lot of your time advocating for the supposedly weaker sex, for minorities, but I guess that advocation comes with strings attached. You only advocate for those with the correct genitalia and full cognitive function, or those who?s social skills you deem as normal. I was under the obvious misunderstanding that the left were all about advocating for tolerance, acceptance, diversity. Apparently, that?s only the case if they behave within the confines of social etiquette.

For some unknown reason, people look up to you. Why, I will never know. Regardless, in your position you had the ability today to make a difference, to be the difference. To show others, like Laura Miller, how to respect those in our society who are mentally challenged, who behave differently to what?s deemed as the norm, to not just make assumptions and snap judgements but make allowances beyond your shallow intolerances, that not everybody is the same or behaves the same, and that there may be a legitimised reason for this. You had this golden opportunity, and you blew it. You blew it in favour of cheap political point scoring, even going so far as to diagnose him as non- autistic, simply as a way of glossing over your poor behaviour and intolerance once it was exposed publicly.

If attacking someone on the Autism Spectrum disorder is the ?new progressive??than you can take progressiveness and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine!! If the position you took today is supposed to serve as a promotion for feminism, then you failed miserably because if the way you wrote about the man on the train is what feminism is all about, then I will give it a big miss too! That level of hatred towards another human being is something I can do without, as can my kids. I can?t help but be bemused by the left?s willingness to label others so quickly as bigots and intolerant, when time and time again it is those on the left, like yourself, that prove it stems out their own personal self- reflection of hate and intolerance.

There have been times in public when I have been embarrassed by my son?s loud noises and the looks we received when people stared at us. I have been embarrassed when my son has lashed out in frustration at some poor stranger, who never saw that pinch coming. I have been mortified. As embarrassed as I remain, even to this day, by the very public antics of my children at times, I am forever thankful that they have saved me from being a judgemental, intolerant ass like you!

Compassion is a hallmark of emotional intelligence. Compassion isn?t learned from a textbook. It?s learned by interacting with people from varying circumstances, with different advantages and disadvantages. Perhaps you could try this Clementine. It really would broaden your horizons and save you from being the complete ass you showed yourself to be today. You too, Laura Miller.

I think Morgan Freeman summed it up best: ?Attacking people with disabilities is the lowest display of power I can think of!?

-Facebook

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