Autism and Abuse

I have always wanted to be a wife and mother. While other little girls dreamed of being a princess, a doctor, or actress, I had other plans. When my baby brother was born, I became a second mother to him; in fact, he called me Mama before our mother. So it really hurts me when I find out a child has been hurt, especially by someone who should love and protect them.

About a month ago, I took Lily to the library, as usual. She goes there once a week for a reading group with other kids her age. That day, there was someone new, a little boy with glasses. An older woman was with him, and I assume she was his grandmother. It was obvious the boy didn’t want to be there. He sobbed the entire ordeal. Her response was only anger.

She dragged him to the group by his arm. He didn’t speak a word, just cried. She forced him to sit down on her lap. He did his best to calm down, but she would whisper into his ear, and he’d start crying again. His eyes darted every which way, and he was picking the skin on his hands. He reminded me so much of buddy, that I knew I was looking at an autistic boy. I wondered if the woman knew.

I dislike talking to people, but I decided to introduce myself and bring up autism to see her response. Unfortunately, the moment the group was over, she grabbed him and yanked him out, again by his arm. I couldn’t get to her fast enough, and they were gone before I could even see what car they took.

The next week, a police officer stopped by to read to the children. They weren’t there.

The week after that, the same situation. She dragged him over while he sobbed. She forced him to sit, while he quietly cried, tears and snot pouring down his face. She didn’t try to calm him down or comfort him. Instead, she whispered threats to him, some I overheard. “You better stop,” she hissed. “Or else.” “You better stop, or you’re going to get it.” Each threat made him cry harder. When he used his arm to wipe his face, she didn’t do anything. I wanted to run and get him a tissue. I thought about what Buddy would need, what would help him calm down the most.

I then noticed that there was a group of kids near us being loud. The man reading read louder than normal. There was a group of adults typing away at computers nearby. Someone’s cell phone went off. I realized that all of this noise would bother Buddy. I had an idea.

I slipped out to the car. We had picked up a second set of noise canceling headphones so he could have one at school. He hadn’t used the new set yet. I brought it into the library and stepped quietly to the woman.

“Excuse me,” I said quietly. “My son is autistic, too, and I know how social situations can be–”

The moment I said, “Autistic,” she snapped at me. “He is NOT autistic!!” She stood and yanked him up by the arm and stormed out of the library. I sat there, stunned. I couldn’t begin to comprehend her reaction. I expected shock, curiosity, but not such hatred for the word.

Why is autism treated as such a horrible thing, a fate worse than death? Why would people rather risk their child’s life than risk autism? Why do people refuse to admit that their child may not be neurotypical?

My own mother is an example. I announced to everyone that my boys are autistic, and I explained autism and how best to handle things. My mother laughed condescendingly. She claimed that autism was the new “hip” diagnosis and that it was popular to diagnose children with it. She said that the symptoms for autism were the same as introverts, so maybe my family is full of introverts. I disagree. I think some of my siblings are autistic, but they’ve never seen a doctor, so we’ll likely never know. I don’t just mean they haven’t seen a doctor to be diagnosed; I mean that they have never, outside of being born, seen a doctor.

For the first ten years of my life, things at my house were the normal American dream house. I’ll skip over some details, but when I turned 10 my mother changed. Suddenly, doctors and school were evil. My younger siblings have never had or been to a birthday party, never gone to school. If anything ever were off, no one would ever know.

This led to a lot of issues for me. I didn’t know I was autistic. My mother used to scream at me, “You cannot possibly be that stupid!” I grew up believing that I was incredibly stupid. The beatings (she called spankings, but even by people who are pro-spanking, this didn’t qualify) for even the smallest of issues, the lack of consistent discipline didn’t help.

How could a mother be so cruel, so neglectful? What is it about autistics that make people want to take advantage of us?

Buddy’s brother was bullied in school, to the point that I took him out and homeschooled him. We joined a homeschool group for autistic children, to get them to socialize. Shortly after meeting them, one of the boys made a confession — Buddy’s brother wasn’t the only one who had been bullied.

This news article is incredibly concerning, but it’s this one that shows footage that makes me tear up. The boy, Micah, was often yanked from class even if he was not being aggressive in any way. He would be pulled and thrown into a small closet, sometimes left there for hours, even if he urinated himself. The teacher holding him there would taunt him and egg him on, hurting him intentionally. No amount of begging from Micah would help.

Here is another video, this one of foster parents. They know she is terrified of having her eyes covered, and they are seen mocking the little girl as they cover her eyes. They laugh and smile at each other as they torture her.

I admit Buddy has his moments that make me want to lash out and punch some pillows or scream in frustration, but I could never imagine treating him this way. I couldn’t imagine hurting him on purpose just because I could. I look at his smile, and I don’t want him to know that people like this exist. I don’t want him to know that people he should be able to trust, like his teachers, could be the ones that abuse him.

No one stood up for these kids. No one stood up for Micah, until his parents began pushing to see what really happened and a news station took interest. No one stood up for my son when he was being bullied. No one stood up for me and my siblings.

I’ve already called Child Protective Services for this boy. We go to the library tomorrow; I hope to see some change. If no one else will stand up for him, I will.

If you find yourself the caregiver of a challenging child, please feel free to reach out to me! I’ll do anything I can to help out, even if it means the only way your child can be helped is by being adopted. I promise to give the child a loving, abuse-free home! Please, just seek help if you  need it. These kids deserve the best.

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