Let’s ride the nope train {Day Four}

Today is the final leg of our Journey of Nope.

To recap:

On Day One, out of seven memes, five of them were a nope.
On Day Two, out of seven memes, five of them were a nope, and one was too obscure to tell.
On Day Three, seven out of seven memes were a nope.

So, without further discussion:

All aboard the nope train!

Meme #22: It’s a nope
Image is titled “Autism Moms” and shows six panels, top three from left to right: 1. Text says “What my friends think I do” below an image of an adult crouching next to a distressed child on the floor. 2. Text says “What my mother thinks I do” below an image of an adult looking at a laptop. 3. Text says “What society thinks I do” below an image of a parent holding a child by their leg standing next to a pram. Bottom three from left to right: 1. Text says “What the government thinks I do” below an image of  Jenny McCarthy standing behind a podium with a sign saying “Green our vaccines.” 2. Text says “What I think I do” below an image of a saluting adult in army clothing. 3. Text says “What I really do” below an image of a smiling adult holding a child.

There is a troubling narrative within groups for parents of autistic children that parents are somehow “warriors.” If you really think that you’re a warrior for parenting an autistic child, I ask you to consider who it is that your war is effecting. If you’re an autism warrior, you’re fighting against an integral part of your child, and that is bound to have a damaging effect on them.

It’s great that this meme ends with an image of a smiling adult holding a child, but the images that preceded it highlight many of the stigmatising narratives surrounding autistic children. Ending it with one positive image does not negate the five previous images which are exceptionally negative.

Meme #23: It’s a nope
Image shows an adult sitting in a bathroom eating chips (crisps depending on location) and reading a magazine. Text says: “Mommy will be right out… I’m going potty”

I guarantee you that if you go and speak to parents of non-autistic children, they will also say that there are times that they hide in the bathroom. Parenting can be tiring. Parenting can be overwhelming at times. But, as I have repeatedly said: That’s because children are individuals with developing skills. It is not because they are autistic.

If you stop treating your parenting role as an absolute burden, you might find that life will become easier.

Meme #24: It’s a nope, but only a brief stop
Image shows a lioness next to four lion cubs. Text says “Me: If someone mistreats my child with special needs”

This is not absolutely terrible, except for the ick words “special needs.” Our needs aren’t special. They’re needs, and they may need to be met in a different way to other people, but they’re just needs.

In addition to that, all parents should be protective of their children within reason. Parents don’t get bonus cookies for protecting their child even if that child is autistic.

Meme #25: It’s a nope
Image shows a plate of food with circles highlighting something on the food. Text says: “An Autism Parent’s worst nightmare… Seasoning”

I’ve already addressed food. This culture of shaming autistic children for what they will and will not eat disgusts me. If parents can’t respect their children’s basic autonomy in choosing what to put into their mouth, can they respect their child’s autonomy at all?

So a child doesn’t like seasoning: Don’t use it in cooking. Add it towards the end after the child’s meal has been plated up. This does not need to be a source of amusement, nor does it have to be a constant battle. Work around it as the adult.

Meme #26: It’s a nope
Image shows an owl with messy feathers and one eye larger than the other holding a coffee cup. Text says: “You might be an autism parent when… enough said”

Sigh. Again, this is co-opting of an autistic child’s identity. Ironically, the majority of people who co-opt their autistic children’s identities and call themselves “autism parents” are the same ones that insist that we use person-first language. I really can’t understand the lack of logic in that thinking, but whatever.

Sleep is obviously a big thing in families of autistic children. Sleep is a big thing in my house too, but there are different ways to deal with sleep.

Meme #27: Skipping this stop – it’s not a nope!
Image is a yellow meme with an illustration of two people, one holding a packed paper bag. Text says “My child does not look ‘Autistic’ And you don’t look ignorant. Yet here we are.”

Meme #28: Rest stop – this meme is awesome
Image shows a lot of toys lined up on the floor. Text says “It doesn’t have to make sense to you. Respect that it makes sense to them.”

Aside from the fact that not every autistic child will line things up, the text on this meme is an excellent message to be sharing with parents of autistic children and wider society. That’s the thing: It really doesn’t have to make sense to anyone, but respect that it makes sense to the child.  You really don’t have to understand everything.

If everyone of these memes were like this one, I wouldn’t have any problem with this post.

Meme #29: It’s a nope
Image shows two adults talking. The right speech bubble says: “How was the movie last night?” The left speech bubble replies: “The 2 minutes we watched 45 times was pretty good.” Text at the bottom of the image says: “Movie night in an autism home.”

Autism has a home now? Seriously, how far can you possibly go to separate autism from the individual?

Aside from that, parents of autistic children need to stop trying to make every aspect of their life into a burden. So, they couldn’t watch a movie. It’s completely possible to find something else to do. Play a board game. Read a book. The world is full of opportunities to do something.

That’s it. That’s the end of our journey on the nope train.

Yesterday, I briefly explained why I took the time to do this, but I know that some people might be wondering why I even bother looking at a site that is so harmful to autistic people.

The answer to that is simple: They have a huge platform. I know that the mighty (awful) is not intended to be solely autism-focused, but a quick look at the categories of posts on that site reveals that the overwhelming majority of their stories relate to autism.

This means that they have huge influence over people in terms of the perceptions that people form about autistic people. They could use that influence for good, but they choose not to. Again and again and again, they choose not to.

Now that this journey over, I encourage you to consider joining Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance in pledging to #BoycottTheMighty.

Final tally out of 29 memes:
Nope Stops: 23
Skipped Stops (Not nopes): 6 (and out of those 6, only 1 of them was actually awesome, while 1 was too obscure to be decided).