Last Friday she sent a letter to the family of a 13-year-old autistic boy named Max Begley (left).
As an autistic person myself, I’m sad that some people see things so one-dimensionally. I know I come across as weird in a public setting: I don’t come up with responses to questions and comments as quickly as other people do. I tend to be pedantic. I have facial expressions that often don’t match the situation I’m in and I know it makes people uncomfortable. But people are still getting off to my erotica over at Erotic Review Magazine even though they can probably deduce these things.
It’s the same thing with Max. His family is overjoyed to spend time with him and “that noise he makes when he is outside.” To them and to Max’s community, which has shown an outpouring of love and support to him and his family, Max is a joy to be around and a pleasure to care for.
There are great things about people on all levels of the autistic spectrum. People on the high-functioning end can amass a lot of knowledge about something and become experts in those fields. People on the more severely-affected end of the scale are guileless and love anyone who is good to them. This is the same reason people love the “crying babies” and “barking dogs” that one pissed-off mother thinks are more acceptable in her neighborhood than Max is. Pretty much all people with autism are fiercely loyal to their favorite people, and Max will always be loyal to his. He isn’t going to grow up to despise his parents like neurotypical children sometimes do. He won’t leave them rotting in a nursing home. They know they are going to get back the love that they give him and that is such a big deal in a world filled with people like one pissed-off mother.
I am not going to say that I can’t believe one pissed-off mother wants Max to be euthanized, because I can. I had a friend with cerebral palsy whose roommate told him he should be euthanized because he was planning to contribute nothing to society except helping other people with cerebral palsy who should also be euthanized. These are the kind of people who make up the modern-day Nazi party which not only has a branch in Germany, but in America too. Look it up. The first thing Adolf Hitler did on the way to his Final Solution was sterilize and kill people with disabilities. If we don’t point out hate speech when it occurs then it could start to become normal in the eyes of the public and that’s a dangerous thing.
One Pissed-off Mother should read about some people with disabilities who have been the polar opposite of “a hindrance to everyone.” Temple Grandin is autistic and she has devoted her life to humane treatment of farm animals. Courtney Love also has high-functioning autism, and it’s likely that Andy Warhol did too. All of these people contributed to the world in ways that had nothing to do with autism advocacy. And on a smaller scale, millions of people with disabilities enrich the lives of people who care about them, which is the same thing we expect of every neurotypical person who isn’t famous.
It doesn’t seem like Max Begley’s family is expecting special treatment either. They take care of him themselves even though Max’s father, James, has multiple sclerosis. Max’s grandmother, Brenda Milson, watches him when Mr. Begley can’t. As for employment, there are plenty of programs for disabled people to work on farms, as grocery baggers, as janitors etc. They may also be able to master repetitive skilled trades like sewing. People with developmental disorders tend to take pride in these jobs unlike their neurotypical counterparts. I have a friend with a developmentally disabled sister who loves her job at a grocery store. Max would probably shake your hand and bag your groceries with a smile.
So if One Pissed-off Mother likes to judge everyone she sees by their usefulness, maybe she should look at what her own little world is telling her. Her own neighborhood has deemed Max far more worthy of its support than her. This is a democracy, one pissed-off mother, and you lost.
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