[content warning: child abuse, CSA, incest, ableism]

The deification of Autism Parents™ isn’t just annoying; it’s horrifying. Not every parent of an autistic child is a saint—some are downright monstrous.
The most obvious examples are the filicidal parents who think that it’s better to have a dead child than an autistic child.

But in many cases, we’re put in situations in which we’re still alive and wish we weren’t.
That was me. My parents were not good parents—ARE not good parents. We have been estranged for almost fifteen years.

I was screamed at, humiliated, degraded, alienated, ridiculed, belittled, and objectified.
Recently, I figured out that the abuse I experienced went beyond the psychological. I’m scared to mention this, as though I’ll be called into my parents’ room for questioning as I was when I lived with them.

I didn’t know that it went that far because I thought what happened…
…was normal. I thought showering with your mother starting at the age of nine, even when I’d showered by myself for several years, was normal. I thought it was totally normal for mothers to make constant sexual jokes with their adolescent children.
I thought it was totally all right for mothers to comment about the smell of their teenage children’s crotches. I thought it was normal for mothers to tell me to keep it down, or others would hear and think they were hurting me.
I remember a conversation from when I was about nineteen, when Mom was worried I’d tell my friends online about my parents. She said that she was worried someone would come and kill them.

My parents didn’t think words could have any lasting effect, so what was she afraid of?
I didn’t know that the groping and the jokes and the showers and the comments were sexual abuse because (a) a woman did it, and (b) I associated CSA with funny uncles, “Stranger Danger,” online predators, and creepy stepfathers. Rarely parents, and never mothers.
Especially not long-suffering Special Needs Mothers™ who had to deal with the excruciating burden of raising difficult children like me.

No matter how “difficult” I was, I didn’t deserve all this. No child does.
Even as I write this, I worry that I made it up, imagined it, just want to make excuses or something, that I somehow deserved it, that it was normal.

But if I knew this was happening to someone else, I’d get in touch with the relevant authorities. That’s how I know it’s wrong.
But in my house, children were parents’ property. We were extensions of the couple, not people with rights, feelings, or opinions of our own.

I am almost thirty-five years old, and I am still deathly terrified of my mother.
(And I use “my house” loosely, because we were constantly moving—my dad was in the Air Force. I should have said “household.” A niggling detail, but one I thought I should clarify.)
My mother would brag about me to her friends, but would be sure to badmouth me—in my presence, even, as though I weren’t there—to therapists and teachers.

I suspect that she wanted to discredit me to any mandated reporter I might speak to.
Again, my parents don’t even BELIEVE in verbal abuse. They never took me seriously when I complained about bullies who called me names; they only took it seriously when they actually touched me.

If what she’d done was “only” verbal, why the hell was she so afraid?
That bespeaks a guilty conscience, at least to me. If she thought she was doing everything right, there would be nothing to fear.
There was so much pressure for me to act as though my family was normal, even though I know I would have been horrified, even back then, to hear that someone else was treated the way I was.

This was not normal. This was not OK; this was not all right.
And most chillingly, I think she knew it; otherwise, she wouldn’t be so afraid.

Again, if she thought she was a great parent, any accusations would just roll off, wouldn’t they? She must have known at some level that what she did was WRONG.
This is part of why I am livid every time I see people glorifying Autism Parents™ without acknowledging that some don’t deserve the glory.

There are a lot of good parents, but some of them are downright rotten—murderers, emotional abusers, child molesters, child batterers.
So, uh, #MeToo. Nobody deserves what I went through, and I am tired of terrible parents skirting accountability because they’re So Wonderful for Putting Up with Such Difficult “Children With Autism.”

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Finn Gardiner • is fully inoculated

Finn Gardiner • is fully inoculated Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @phineasfrogg

6 Apr
Random frustration: developers who get away with terrible customer service because they make niche software.
A few weeks ago, I actually *blocked* a developer’s support email because he was extraordinarily rude to me and tried to lecture me about “descriptive grammar” when I told him about the nonstandard and inconsistent English on his team’s website.
(A) I wasn’t talking about grammar at all, but spelling; and (B) the kind of descriptivism he was invoking is horseshit—I call it “vulgar descriptivism,” or the invoking of linguistic research methods to devalue the work of copyeditors, professional writers, and others who care.
Read 22 tweets
5 Apr
#GraphicDesignerProblems: Why don’t any of these grant proposals actually allow good typography and high-quality typefaces? Arial is a cheap Helvetica rip-off, Courier is a pain to read, and Times New Roman… ugh. TNR is the least objectionable, but still!
If a member of a research team knows about typography, they should be able to use it. Why do they REQUIRE proposals to look as though they were made by amateurs who don’t care about design? I don’t understand that at all.
If it’s about ease of reading or availability, they could include Helvetica, Georgia, and Verdana in the list, too. All these are more readable than Courier, which is monospaced.

If they want to enforce a certain length, that’s what word counters are for.
Read 5 tweets
9 Sep 20
Make far-right evangelicals politically irrelevant again.
Just because they wrap their bigotry up in flowery platitudes about the saving grace of Jesus doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous.

Entertaining their views in debates about LGBTQ rights is a mistake, IMO. Their anti-pluralism makes it impossible to reason w/them.
Would we allow overt white nationalists to control the conversation about Black Lives Matter? I hope not. So why do we routinely allow these far-right evangelicals to inject themselves into every single LGBTQ-rights debate?
Read 11 tweets
19 May 20
Things that it’s completely valid to criticise Trump for: corruption, inhumane immigration policies, buddying up with authoritarian evangelicals, giving cover to white nationalists, appointing unqualified and/or destructive people, cronyism, nepotism, selfishness, racism…
…misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, ableism, putting children in cages, family separation policies, bungling the coronavirus crisis response, fucking up the Hurricane Maria response, rampant dishonesty, greed, pettiness, gross incompetence.
On the other hand, there are criticisms of Trump that also attack innocent people: armchair mental health diagnoses, jokes about his weight, comments about his IQ.

I don’t give a fuck how much he weighs. I care about what he’s done to other people both here and abroad.
Read 9 tweets
13 Jan 20
I think I would be less strict about ‘autistic person’ versus ‘person with autism’ if the insistence on person-first language a) didn’t come primarily from non-autistic people, and b) wasn’t constantly used to correct autistic people. (1)
I think a lot of people use person-first language because it’s what they’ve been taught, especially if they’re professionals. But it can also serve as a shibboleth to identify non-autistic people who don’t listen to us, especially if they’ve been told otherwise. (2)
It’s not the phrasing as much as it is everything else that surrounds it: a focus on normalisation and ‘optimal outcomes’, a rejection of autistic culture, the medical and/or pity models.
Read 9 tweets
3 Sep 19
I think a lot of supposedly materialist/empirical disciplines rely more on idealism than they’ll let on. I’ve seen this with psychiatry in particular.
A cultural truism or norm isn’t an objective benchmark; it’s an idealised standard that most people may not even live up to themselves.
For example, look at ‘evidence-based’ practices like ABA—the idea is that therapy can create a non-autistic-seeming idealised person out of an #ActuallyAutistic one. That’s an idealistic stance (in the ‘aspiring to a particular model of the world’ sense.)
Read 18 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!