Words can’t express how deeply revolting I find this Time.com headline:
“Autism’s Invisible Victims: The Siblings”
Starting with my own son, many siblings will be the first to tell you that their lives have been enriched beyond measure by sister or brother who happens to have autism. ENOUGH with teaching our children to view themselves as victims of life, even at its most inexplicable randomness. We perpetuate the worst kind of fantasy when we convey, however subtly, that anyone’s life can be free of challenges and that when challenges arrive on our doorstep, it is somehow unfair.
Beyond the abominable headline, Time’s article is a poignant description of the author’s interviews with 35 children, many of whom were devoted to but at the same time resenting their sibling with autism. The article represented only a small sampling of siblings of children with autism, identifying but offering no solutions to a profound and most likely widespread problem. But I think we can all agree that resources for siblings of children with autism are deplorably lacking. However. I have a friend who has spent his life working with adults with disabilities. His mantra: “There are no problems, only opportunities.” I’ll take that call to action over the perpetuation of victimization any day.
Feedback from my Facebook page:
“And what a way to pile even more guilt on parents! It’s not always fair to our other kids but it’s life and we all make it work. We certainly don’t need to label them as victims.”
“Why would they feel like they are the victims???? We have two ‘typical’ kids and one on the spectrum. I can’t tell you how having a child with special needs has blessed us! Yes, there are challenges. Our other children have a understanding of others with ‘special needs’, that most people don’t get. They are the first to offer a helping hand. They have accepted their brother for who he is, a blessing.”
“Their siblings learn to accept and understand differences, and not to be judgmental. Words like this headline can be very harmful, like all this literature and headlines about fighting or destroying autism. This can be very violent to people on the spectrum. It is like saying that something is wrong in them and has to be destroyed.”
“There is no excuse for sensationalist journalism that perpetuates fear and loathing of people.”
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