I wish I didn't have to say it, that there wasn't a need to. But you have been tricked. The system tells you that autistic children are violent. That they are aggressive. That they could turn on you and your family. And the system has tricked you. Maybe it wasn't their intent. Maybe they really think it's true because they don't understand. Maybe it fills their need to sell therapy, drugs, and institutions. Or maybe it justifies the existence of the system and the way it works. But it simply isn't true. To say this child who is in the midst of a meltdown and is flailing, striking out, yelling, and throwing things is not violent is true. They are fighting yes, but they aren't intent on hurting at all. It's the environment. It's the therapy. It's the bad instructions you've been given on interacting with your child. Those aren't working. Yet the system wants to convince you it's just that autistic children are violent. They aren't. The environment, the education system, the methods are all failing them. We end up seeing our child suddenly as a stranger - as one we think will harm us. And that's when we've lost everything. It is in that moment of disconnection that we both lose. Because then we resort to methods and environments and institutions that are even worse. For them. For us. For society. If your child is melting down in school, it's not the right environment for them. If your child is melting down from being backed into a corner, mentally or physically, that strategy doesn't work for them. They enter into fight or flight. What do you expect them to do? For them, they are fighting against the assaults on them, not the other way around. Imagine you are in an environment where a fire alarm is ringing. It's loud. It's unbearable. You have to stay. You can't concentrate. You try to hum to block out the sound. You move around. You do everything possible. And you are told you have to stay. You are backed into a corner. You are restrained. You are yelled at. Yet the fire alarm rings. You become frustrated. You are told you must get used to it - this is real life. You feel you may go insane. The fire bell continues to ring. Someone touches you unexpectedly, you jump, you flail, you fall to the floor. You are not violent. You are fighting for your life. Your child is not violent. Do not believe the system. Your child does not turn into a stranger, disconnected, dead inside. Until the day you believe that is true and disconnect from them. Don't let anyone tell you that your child is aggressive and violent because they are autistic. It's not true. The system is to blame. We must change. We must continue to look at our children with love and compassion. With understanding for what they are trying to tell you without words. That they need different environments, different strategies, ones that work for them. We must fight back against the system. And hold our children with loving compassion. No matter what the system tells you.
Autistic children have problems in schools and school buses because those systems are not set up for their needs. It's not the opposite. The system tells you your child needs to learn, needs to be different. But in reality, the system isn't meeting your child's needs. The chaos of the school system is targeted at an imaginary child, one that does not exist. Most children get by. Our children bring out the flaws in the system. Yet we think we need to change our child to fit the imaginary child mold, one who will sit quietly, one who will allow others to treat them as a child who doesn't get it, who doesn't belong. Why do we believe this? Why do we do things like force our children to act certain ways in order to merit being educated? Why do we force them in to transportation systems that make them vulnerable? Why do we feel that physically forcing them to get on a bus, stay on a bus, manhandling them, strapping them in is teaching them anything but that physical force makes them feel helpless? This isn't how the real world works, yet we are made to believe it is. Why do we accept strategies that put us in conflict with our children? If your child is melting down and striking out, the strategies we are using are broken, not our children. They aren't working, so why do we keep using them? Any child will be overwhelmed and strike out when strategies of behave, hide yourself, you don't belong, or physical force will be used are used against them. Any child. Let's return to parenting. Let's return to compassion. Let's get out of the conflict that the system has placed us in. Let's get back to connecting with our child. With love and compassion.
9. But I ask you @ucla: Are you ok w a teacher saying ""I will give no more than the minimally required assistance to any autistic student."
The best thing you can do for your child when they're having a meltdown is to be present. Be with them. If you are unsure what helps, just be present. With loving kindness. With calm. With peace. With your full attention. Be the lighthouse that lets them know they are okay no matter what. That you accept them no matter what. That they are safe no matter what. The pain of watching our children experiencing upset, of being unsure how to help, is disturbing. It feels awful. You'll be tempted to move away from that discomfort, physically or emotionally. You'll be tempted to distract yourself, with social media or helping others. By leaving the room. That's natural. We've all been there. But stay there with your child. Recognize your upset. Be present for yourself. Comfort yourself. Tell yourself this will pass. That you are okay. That you are doing the right thing by being present for your child. Just be present. With calm, loving kindness. For yourself. For your child.