|Giving autism parents a bad name: Jason & Kate Wells
1. The parents spend over 60% of their days generating written content that disparages their child and presents themselves as martyrs for having to parent divergent children.
|Isabelle "Issy" Stapleton credit Facebook
3. The parents are successful in gaining either local or national media attention, thereby rewarding the production of content damaging to a disabled child that will remain on the internet forever.
4. The parents crowdfund for assistance from the community based upon the negative content produced about their children.
5. The parents attempt to murder their children.
6. The parents are defended by others for attempting to murder or murdering their children because prior negative content showing their disabled child at a moment of crisis is used as an excuse.
While all this is happening no one seems to ask:
How have the parents the time to videotape a moment when they should be keeping their children from harm to themselves and others?
How have the parents the time to constantly broadcast negative content when parenting the victimized child is such a tremendous challenge?
|Alex Spourdalakis surrounded by funeral flowers
Why any parent in good conscience can believe it is okay to broadcast the worst moments their children experience to a global audience?
Why aren't the parents seeking mental health support for themselves if they have entered a state of depression so extreme that all content they produce about their own children is negative?
For those readers born before the internet and social media, imagine what it would be like to have your worst, most humiliating childhood moments broadcast forever to anyone who chose to view it. There was a period when there were no rules to social networking, and parents would demand to be added to adult children's accounts only to post embarrassing and on occasion, humiliating photos of their own children publicly to be viewed by the person's colleagues, peers, and complete strangers. It took time for rules to appear that warned parents that the internet is a public broadcasting method and content posted on it can become viral and magnify harm done regardless of intent.
I am tired of this pattern of self-serving exposure at the expense of one's neurodivergent children and frightened of its consequences. Do we believe this is not a problem? Examples of parents who followed this behavioral pattern:
Issy Stapleton's mother, whose blog about her was named The Status Woe, and who drugged her, left her in a car and tried to poison her with smoke from barbecue grills.
Alex Spourdalakis' mother and godmother, who after massive media coverage and fundraising efforts using video of Alex in four point restraint naked on a hospital bed, tried to overdose Alex on sleep medication, then stabbed him repeatedly and violently to death. Not satisfied, they then stabbed his cat to death as well
|London McCabe, 2014, credit NBC News
In the past, I tried to call out parents who exhibited these types of behaviors because I feel these acts are a sign of worse things to come and I strongly believe this is a pattern that will not end well. Posts like "You are NOT Adam Lanza's Mother" are an attempt to show other disabled offspring's parents that these acts are dangerous, permanently harm their children, and are a red flag the parents need counseling. But the internet and any moment of media attention are lures that no voice of reason can overcome.
Apparently, parents Jason and Kate Wells have not garnered sufficient attention for themselves and have taken to live-tweeting their autistic teenage son having a meltdown on the excuse that they are educating others. I will not post the article about it. All I will say is they are a couple from Peterborough, Canada. Dehumanizing your own child does not educate anyone about autism. This degree of exposure of a vulnerable teen is no different from making them a sideshow act at a circus. It is abusive behavior and bad parenting. It is a display of the serious psychological problems the parents are having and is a sign that the parents need crisis counseling and intensive interventions for their own mental health and the safety of their neurodivergent son. It does not show anything about their son, his neurology, or his adolescence, except the parents' own ignorance of what is happening to their son when a meltdown is occurring and how to help him manage it in a humane, professional, and loving manner.
I take issue with any parent violating health laws, the privacy of their own children, and placing their children at risk of harm to feed their followers and gain social networking capital. I find it particularly disturbing behavior when the child is disabled and may never be able to litigate against the parents for presenting damaging video content on the internet about them.
The most important takeaway from this latest episode of digital exhibitionism at the expense of a disabled teen is all of us who are parents to neurodivergent children need to understand that this is not something that we should be applauding and encouraging. We should be warning parents about it as an indicator of serious problems in that home. It is a crooked line in a pattern that leads to a bad end. Every autistic teenager is not melting down attacking their parents 24/7 across the country. Broadcasting individual negative experiences in a one-sided manner and generalizing across the community because individual parents may have a personal wish to get their teenaged son out of their home is WRONG, disturbing, and causes harm to all of us. Address the actual issue. If as parents the Wells need to transition their son out of their care because they are unable to care for him, they need to contact the proper authorities or do what other parents have done. Parents have created individualized housing, care, and transitional services for adult children in places where those services are lacking. Had the Wells spent less time broadcasting and more time reading, perhaps they could have broadcast how they worked with their son to help him through the additional stressors of his teen years and gain him some respite and autonomy from them.
We need to begin looking for solutions to help our children rather than using the internet to make their lives all about ours. It is called being a parent. Let us all begin acting like responsible ones.
In memory of all the murdered divergent children, with hope that speaking out helps end the killings