I am tired. I am tired of being angry.
I took a study break today to discover yet another media report about the abuse of autistic children in Australian schools.
Let’s take a moment to list the media reports related to the abuse of autistic adults and children that have occurred over the past few months:
[Specific CN on the links below: media reports containing details and images of devices used to abuse autistic children and adults]
- 9 September 2015: Cage used to restrain autistic child
- 5 October 2015: Wooden box built to lock up autistic people
- 28 October 2015: Autistic boy put in tiny cell-like room
- 11 November 2015: Autistic boy chained up
- 2 December 2015: Autistic children assaulted at childcare centre
- 15 December 2015: Autistic children let down by schools
- 15 December 2015: Lack of training leads to abuse of autistic children
- 15 December 2015: Dozens of NSW teachers investigated for assault of autistic children
- 16 December 2015: Autistic child locked in a dark cupboard
Those are just the reports of recent incidents. That’s 9 in 14 weeks. 9 in 98 days. One every 10 days. That doesn’t include these two reports which relate to previous incidents:
- 11 November 2015: Autistic child died after being tied up in shed
- 2 December 2015: Autistic child drowns
That doesn’t include international media reports of more autistic children and adults being abused and murdered. That’s just Australia. That’s just 14 weeks.
The majority of those cases involve children, who are already vulnerable because of their age, and that vulnerability is increased when you consider that many autistic children have communication differences so they may not be able to communicate their distress in a way that most people would understand.
The saddest part is that I’m not even surprised anymore when I see another report. I am angry, but I am also just so tired. I am tired of autistic people being ignored in discussions around the abuse of autistic children and adults. I am tired of abusers hiring lawyers and using twisty words to protect their public images.
I am tired of people sympathising with abusers because we are such a burden to deal with. I am tired of the long-lasting damage being done to autistic children. I am tired of people looking at us as though we’re here to inspire society while they simultaneously deny us the basic human right to be free from harm, and when we say “stop killing us” and “stop hurting us,” we get told to calm down.
We get told we don’t understand the nuances of the individual cases. Why is the abuse of autistic children a nuanced situation? More importantly, why are these reports treated as though they’re isolated incidents when they represent a glaringly obvious pattern of systematic oppression?
We speak out. We say that there is a pattern. We show people the pattern. We talk to the media, and say that this is not an isolated incident. We use our spoons by talking on the phone, and no one listens. They’re not interested in a pattern. They just want a juicy story about an isolated incident. No one wants to see what we can see. No one wants to see what is obvious when you look, because once you’ve seen it, you can’t un-see it, so everyone looks away and the pattern continues.
Stop looking away. Stop pretending you cannot see the pattern. Look! See! Understand why we are angry. Get angry with us, and help us create a better society for our children.