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(Image description: A partial screenshot of a blog post. The title reads “How I reduced screaming and verbal stimming in my child with autism”, and below that is a colour photograph of a hand holding a rectangular plastic “clicker” device.)

I think I may have mentioned this blog post, and the sadness and confusion I felt when I came across it, in one of my videos. This screenshot is from the blog of an “autism parent”. Yes, that is a clicker. Yes, she is encouraging the use of animal training methods on Autistic children. Yes, she considers any kind of vocal stimming, not just screaming, to be a “bad behaviour”. To top it all off, her blog banner reads, “Discovering SOLUTIONS to the Everyday Problems of Living with AUTISM”. Here is an excerpt from her tutorial on how to train your disabled child like a dog to have a “Quiet Mouth”:

Third, I sat back and watched my child. Since he was making bad noises, I decided to reinforce Quiet Mouth (i.e., lips together, no sound). Whenever he had a split second of Quiet Mouth, I immediately tagged (made a click-sound with the device) and handed over a treat. Every time his mouth was Quiet, I tagged (clicked) and treated. Soon there was much more Quiet Mouth behavior. When doing this it is important to ignore and pay no attention to vocal stims or screaming. Do not look at the child, do not speak to him/her or explain. Just say nothing, and immediately tag and treat as soon as there is even a split second of Quiet Mouth. You can also tag and treat a child for any appropriate vocalizations. If he/she says a nice word, or makes an appropriate comment, then tag and reinforce that. Your goal is to increase Quiet Mouth and appropriate vocalizations.

And sadly, as bad as this attitude and treatment of Autistic children is, this is a relatively tame example when compared to the other unethical treatments, therapies, and methods of discipline that Autistic children are being subjected to every day (all in the name of making them appear less obviously Autistic). This is why we need Autism Acceptance Month and not the fear-mongering, negative, misinformed “awareness” that Autism Speaks and its allies are pumping out this April.

We need acceptance because Autistic children should be loved and accepted wholly and completely for who they are, not hurt and mistreated in their parent’s frantic search for a “cure”. Because Autistic people deserve to be treated with respect and listened to, not silenced and forced or coerced to conform to an ableist, non-disabled ideal. Because Autistic children need accommodation and understanding to live healthy, happy lives, not sketchy “treatments” and intensive, soul-crushing “therapies” to try to make them appear more neurotypical and less Autistic.

For more information on ASAN’s Autism Acceptance Month, see the about page on the website here:

This disgusts me because while this is far more severe and dehumanising than what I experienced, it feels familiar all the same.

I’m considered ‘high functioning’ and even I had to go through training to make my behaviour seem less visibly Autistic as a child. Things like learning that you’re not allowed to talk about what you like for more than 3 or so sentences because you’ll bore everyone otherwise. About how everyone else has to come first because their comfort trumps yours.

You’re taught that you have to pretend to like less specialised things and that you can only enjoy what you’re passionate about at designated times of the day (when you’re in private). How you have to learn off facial expressions, hide your stimming, practice keeping eye contact and become obsessively vigilant about working out possible reactions to everything you say, because speaking freely will let your secret out.

And if your secret gets out, you’ll get bullied because you didn’t hide it well enough.

Once again, it’s nowhere near what this child has to go through but it just shows that this idea of ‘training’ Autistic kids out of their apparently problematic behaviour is highly prevalent, as though Autistic kids are to blame for other kids bullying them.

Hormones are out of whack so be warned:

I hate this rut ive stuck myself in. Ive got no friends, im almost 20 years old and never had a job, i blow what little money i have on stupid shit. I do nothing but watch my sisters young kids and change nasty diapers all day, im to scared to drive, i dont clean my house enough, i talk to much, im afraid to start my adult life but talk a big talk. Only thing good i have going is my girlfriend, and she lives an hour away for at least another 6 weeks. All in all im just really unhappy with my life right now.r

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