Tag Archives: aspergers

Parents Saying Too Much!

Should there be tighter laws governing what parents write and publish about their own about children?

“Loose lips sink ships”and loose lips also sink kids.

Yesterday, I read a paid post over at Mamamia, where a mother wrote about her son’s Asperger’s and how she ended up spending $1000 on his birthday party in an attempt to “buy” him some friends. Her son was named and photographed, leaving no doubt about who he was and the duck’s guts of his struggles were exposed, detailed and publicised.

Was that okay?

I don’t think so and I wasn’t the only one:

“As a painfully shy child and now introverted adult, I would have been mortified as a child to find my (well meaning) mother making all my vulnerabilities so public. Children and teenagers can be so cruel and I feel it is quite insensitive of the author to lay all his social awkwardness out in the open.
It may take him a lot longer than most but he will eventually develop his social skills. His mother micromanaging every tiny detail will only make this boy more anxious and paranoid something is “wrong”with him.”

This mother clearly loves her son and would do anything for him but did she have to do this?

I don’t think so and you don’t need to be Einstein to wonder about the consequences both now and down the track. Children aren’t always loving cherubs. Indeed, they can be brutal. Bullying is rife, particularly involving kids with any kind of even perceived difference. While people are all very encouraging of kids with special needs in theory, when it comes to the competitive world of kids’ birthday invites, it gets brutal. Kids don’t even need a diagnosis to be excluded. Not being flavour of the month is enough…no invitations! That can hurt. Depending on your personality and outlook, it can really hurt.

So why draw attention to her son’s troubles? Does EVERYBODY truly need to know?

From me, it’s a resounding: “NO!!! DEFINITELY NOT!!!!”

Indeed, I asked my kids what they thought in the car today and they said: “That’s private!”

Jonathon sunset

If it was only one parent writing uber-personal details about their child, that might excuse it.

However, there’s a plethora of parents doing it. Is it so they can get a paid to write? Have the kudos of being a published writer? Or, to boost traffic to their site?

Or, have the lines between public and private become so blurred that people are forgetting to keep some of themselves and their children back? That is doesn’t all have to be out there? Indeed, much of it shouldn’t be!

Many of these parents, at least in my opinion, go too far.

amelia heart painting

Being a blogger, I’m hardly what you’d call a private person. I routinely post photos of my kids on my blog but nothing too embarrassing. While I might refer to their ups and downs, there’s nothing that personal. Moreover, I don’t use their names and call them “Mister” and “Miss”. Maybe, even this is going too far and I know parents who don’t put their kids’ photos on any form of social media. I haven’t had any haters on my blog and even though it’s all out there for the world to see, the reality is that I don’t get THAT MUCH traffic. My blog is more of a community and it’s almost like having coffee in a cafe, even though I haven’t met these people in person.

However, I don’t believe any parent has the right to disclose private personal information about their child, just in the same way it is illegal to post naked photos of your child (At least, I hope it’s illegal!!). I personally do not see the difference. In one instance, the body is exposed and in the other, it is them…their self. This is just as private.

We teach our children the importance of the Golden Rule and the need to treat others the way we would like to be treated. Yet, these parents flagrantly invade their own child’s privacy seemingly without any consideration …children who have no way of fighting back.

Why are they doing it and why are media outlets buying and publishing these stories? These are children. Precious children who need protecting, sheltering…NOT exploitation!

There are a lot of wonderful bloggers raising awareness of Aspergers, Autism and all sorts of other conditions anonymously without exposing their child in the process. These bloggers often form supportive communities where no money changes hands…just good will!

As a writer working on a memoir, privacy is a serious consideration. I’m very conscious that once you put your stuff out there, you can’t take it back. No amount of money or fame is worth selling your self. Or, even worse, throwing your self away.

What about your child? Are you really happy throwing them to the sharks…especially without their consent?!! What are you going to say to them when they grow up?

I’m sure I’m not the lone voice in the wilderness.

What are your views about these privacy concerns? Do you feel too many parents are exploiting their kids through their writing? I’d love to hear your views.

xx Rowena

Sticking Labels Where They Don’t Fit…

When it comes to sticking diagnostic labels on people, I’ve always been in favour of diagnosis and treatment but I’m starting to change my mind.

Instead, I’m thinking that we need to be more cautious about where we start sticking labels, especially when those labels might have consequences down the track.

The American Psychiatric Association will be releasing the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in May 2013.

Part of the changes to the new diagnostic criterion is the reclassification of Aspergers into the broader umbrella term “autism spectrum disorder,” which will now apply for all children and adults with some form of autism. This means that people with a sprinkling of traits (ie the equivalent to a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands on a serving of ice cream) will be in the same camp as those with severe autism. This involves a huge shift in how people currently defined as “Asbergers” will be placed or “categorised”. I also suggest that people who might have accepted or even celebrated being “aspy”, might prefer things just the way they are. They are and always have been , their own people.

This new classification fails to address society’s understanding of what it means to be “autistic” and how individuals or parents might feel when someone who is “a bit different” is labelled “autistic”, when quite clearly they are not. It is also a huge leap, especially in terms of social stigma, for someone who might be somewhat asbergersish and something of a  Sheldon from Big Bang Theory or perhaps an IT geek or scientist. With any diagnosis there is grief and there is no need to compound that grief by sticking on highly emotive labels which simply don’t fit.

It seems to me that this new umbrella terms is really going to make an already confusing mess, only more confusing and will turn people away from a diagnosis and in the process, away from possible help and understanding.

Labels are good when it enables people to get the help they need but I don’t believe that can happen with a one-size fits all diagnosis. It ends up becoming meaningless. It either waters down the serious difficulties some individuals experience or paints a fairly sociable kid as a loner.

It doesn’t work.

After being misdiagnosed myself with osteo-arthritis myself which has a totally different line of treatment to my auto-immune disease, I know that you have to be very careful when you apply labels and try to make them stick.

Just ask my dog!

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What do you think?

Best wishes,

Rowena