Feel the autism?

OK, so after posting that long article criticising disabled and/or autistic self-advocates for forgetting how hard it was to raise a profoundly disabled or severely autistic child, I had this tweet today:

Yesterday,a daycare child woke from nap & fingerpainted w/contents of diaper. Thought of parents of kids with #autism. I #pray for you! #FAY

I responded by asking why we all needed to know that. The person tweeted through the account @AynComeHome, which is for announcing developments in the Ayn Van Dyk case in Canada (see earlier post). I wondered why that had been broadcast when it seemed to have no relevance to Ayn’s own case, as I had not heard it reported that she does what was described.

Oh, and “FAY” isn’t the child’s name — it stands for “Feel Autism Yet?”.

When I discovered that acronym, I was quite offended — whatever the intention, it had the intention of “smearing”, so to speak, all people with autism with a generalisation from one extreme behaviour found in some autistic children, yes, but not all, and also in some children who have been victims of abuse, or who have other mental disturbance. I would hazard a fairly safe bet that all those who do this (and who do not have these kinds of disturbances) are at the severe end of the spectrum, rather than on the less extreme Aspgerger syndrome-type part of it.

I’ve not seen any other “Feel the Autism Yet?” tweets, although there was a series of them in 2009 when Tim Welsh, writing on AutismOne, asked parents of autistic children to use the hashtag to tweet their most heart-wrenching moment in raising their child (you can read some of the responses at the same page). All the tweets are about personal and financial difficulty, with care problems also featuring. To include the tag next to this story just makes it seem as this behaviour is typical of autism, that this is autism. Seen a kid smear their poo around? Then you’ve seen autism. And smelt it, if not felt it. It’s a very negative portrayal of autism, and those affected by it.

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