Let’s ride the nope train {Day One}

Ah, the mighty (awful) have done it again. This time: 29 Memes That Nail What It’s Like to Be an ‘Autism Parent’. Apparently, according to whoever decided to share the post on the mighty (awful)’s Facebook page “This always puts a smile on our faces.” Well, my face was not smiling.

So, let’s ride the nope train on these memes, shall we?

Before we do that, I would just like to share the virtually standardised reply that I received to my lengthy email where I did in fact answer each of the three questions they posed. I know many people received similar emails, so I’m sharing so that people who received replies and hoped that the mighty (awful) were really going to listen can compare my version to their version:

I want to sincerely thank you you for taking the time to write this to me. I know you don’t know me or have a reason to trust me, but please believe that I appreciate this.

What I’m trying to do now is really listen. With the insight we’re receiving, yours now included, as a team we’re going to ask ourselves what we want this site to become. In the next several weeks we’ll be having conversations around how we’re going to make changes and what we need to do to actually serve the disability community. We’re a work in a progress and I truly appreciate your guidance in all of this.

Thank you again. I hope you have a great holiday season and please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Megan

I’m not going to analyse the words in that reply. I’ll leave that to others. I just wanted to highlight one sentence in it: “With the insight we’re receiving, yours now included, as a team we’re going to ask ourselves what we want this site to become.” I guess their decision to reshare the above linked post means that they have answered themselves and decided what they want their site to become?

Clearly, they want it to be a nope train track.

So, without further ado:

All aboard the nope train!

I’m not going to reshare the memes here, but I will include an image description for each one because the mighty (awful) doesn’t include image descriptions (way to go on accessibility there, everyone!)

Fortunately, we won’t have to stop at every station. Some of the memes were not problematic, but we will be stopping at the nope stations, so here we go:

Meme #1: It’s a nope
Image shows a youngish child with an excited look on their face sitting in front of a latop. Text says “FYI, your 1 million YouTube hits are from one autistic child”

Right, non-autistic adults, have you never rewatched a movie that you have previously seen because you have enjoyed it? Why is it ok for you to rewatch something that you enjoy, but it’s a joke when an autistic child does it?

Parents of non-autistic children, do you really want to tell me that your non-autistic child never found a movie, or tv series that they enjoyed, and wanted to watch over and over again?

This is what people do. We do the things that we enjoy. Autistic people might repeat the same things more often than non-autistic people, but why is this a joking, othering thing?

Meme #2: It’s a nope
Image is a light blue meme with an illustration of a person wearing a dress skipping on the right-hand side. Text says “All these other moms are talking about honor roll, dance recitals, softball games, gymnastics meets and I’m here like Woo Hoo! She tried a new food AND her socks didn’t bother her”

So what? So your child has sensory issues which make eating and clothing uncomfortable. You work around it. You don’t turn it into yet another thing to declare your martyrdom.

My son does a lot of things that his age mates don’t do, and he doesn’t do a lot of things that they do. In some cases, he may have skills that his age mates have not yet achieved, and in other cases, he may still be working on skills that his age mates mastered a long time back. This doesn’t mean that he is somehow less worthy of respect than his age mates.

Not being on the honor roll, and not participating in dance recitals, softball games, or gymnastics meets does not lessen your child’s achievements.

I’m not even going to go into how stereotyped that is. While I don’t have the motor coordination to be a sportsperson, I know more than a few autistic people who excel at sports and jock-related activities.

Meme #3: It’s a nope
Image shows two photos of gorillas relaxing with text: “Other parents watching their kids at the playground”. Below that, over a photo of a different monkey (spider monkey, perhaps?), text says “Autism parents watching their kids at the playground.”

I don’t know why parents of autistic children seem to feel that parenting is so much harder because their children are autistic. I’m friends with quite a few parents of neurotypical children, and they’ve confirmed that parenting is not an easy job because children are children. They’re still developing skills, they’re still learning about their world, and they still need guidance and support in doing so.

Meme #4: It’s a nope, but only a brief stop
Image shows an illustration of a ship with animals lining up to go inside. Text says: “Autism / Around since Noah lined up all the animals and counted them.”

This is not terrible. It’s not particularly funny, and it feeds into stereotypes because not all autistic children and adults line things up. We may group things in different ways because that provides us with a sense of order, but that lining up of objects: Not everyone does it.

Meme #5: Skipping this stop – it’s not a nope!
Image is a photograph of a person with messed up hair, closed eyes, and hands in front of him as though he’s explaining something (I do not know who this is, but it’s a common meme so feel free to let me know if you recognise him). Text says: “Everyone with autism was born as a result of sex / Sex causes autism”

Meme #6: Skipping this stop – it’s not a nope (unless you’re vegan)!
Image is a word meme with black text on a gray background which says: “Autism is not a tragedy. Running out of bacon is. Also ignorance, but mostly the bacon thing.”

Meme #7: It’s a nope
Image is a light blue meme with a person holding their face in their hands as though crying on the left hand side. Text says: “You might be an autism parent if your kid can name all 63 moons of Jupiter but cannot tell you what they want for lunch.”

This combines a couple of things. Firstly, there is a little bit of degrading of the importance of special interests. We have special interests, and non-autistic people have hobbies. Hobbies seem acceptable to non-autistic people, while our special interests seem less acceptable.

Secondly, is it possible that the child in question is having difficulty processing a decision for any number of reasons? I struggle with deciding what to eat. There are many things that I don’t eat because of their texture. There is also a process of going through options, and weighing them up. I tend to do this by comparing two options, choosing between the two, and then comparing the remaining option to a third option, rather than trying to weigh up all the options together. This takes a long time.

My son has a similar process, but sometimes he gets lost in terms of where he is in the process of weighing up options so he has to start again. How do we get around that? I give him a choice of three things. It reduces decision-making time.

That is all that I can do today in terms of available time and spoons, but join me tomorrow, as we continue our journey on the nope train.