After a very emotional afternoon in my house, I made a bit of a mistake. I went on Facebook. Let me offer you advice… Never go on Facebook if you are feeling emotional. The minute I popped on, I noticed once again the people who turn everything into a fad. More specifically, I noticed the ones that turn autism into a fad.
So let me back up and tell you about what happened today. I’ll give you the short version.
My son got very upset, completely shut down, and shut everyone out. He refused to talk, and he refused to come out of his room. It started with yelling, then it went to not talking, and then the refusal to come out of the room. It was long and emotionally draining. I was trying to come up with a plan to reach him wherever he was in his mind when I noticed that he played a move on Words with Friends. He loves that app. He was decompressing in his room, and that’s ok, except I knew he was very upset and we needed to discuss it. So I decided to iMessage him.
It took half an hour of iMessaging, but we worked through the emotions. We worked through what was upsetting him so much. And shortly after our messaging was done he sent me one last text that read, “I’m ready to come downstairs now.”
He came down and sat next to me. I asked him if he was ok and he told me he felt better. Then, he began playing another game.
But I was drained.
Back when he was younger, my son’s meltdowns consisted of this incredibly hollow howling sound. He would cry and howl and rock back and forth, a lot. But he’s gotten older and the howling hasn’t happened in a long time. The disconnecting and total shutdown is what happens now and though I know it isn’t about me, it is hard not to take it personally as a mom. It hurts.
So, it wasn’t a great time to go on Facebook. I was on for no more than two minutes when I saw the posts about the products. The posts shared from people I know. Posts with the products. Because in the world of Facebook, autism is a fad and there are a lot of products. Hoodies? Let’s buy one! Mugs? Gotta have that! Gadgets and gizmos with a puzzle piece strategically placed on it? Sign me up for twenty!
Newsflash: Your mug means NOTHING until you’ve earned it.
Autism is real. It is our real life experience.
It’s not a fad.
So I made a post on Facebook stating as much. And shortly after, I deleted it.
I deleted it because people on Facebook tend to get bent out of shape about everything. I decided that offending someone with my post wasn’t worth it. That’s why I have a blog. I blog to share my thoughts and feelings. It may still bother someone, but at least they will have to physically click the link and choose to read my post. And if they do that, well, that’s on them.
I wish people would stop making autism a fad. It is not hip or cool. You are not suddenly part of some amazing club if you are an autism parent. There are no awards. You don’t become popular. The reason people like me write things on blogs isn’t because we think it’s something extra special. We write because it’s an outlet. The world of an autism parent can be extremely lonely at times. Many people don’t understand what day to day life is like for us. They see the surface. And since autism has no particular physical appearance, the surface just looks like any other typical life.
If you need a product to feel special, that’s kind of sad.
Personally, on days like today, I just need a hug.