The Autism Mom is an infamous villain in the autistic community.
We are outraged that she wants to cure or fix her children, that she supports Autism Speaks, that she blames autism on vaccines and tells us how to refer to ourselves.
Some Autism Moms support abusive therapies and fringe, dangerous treatments. Some Autism Moms are murderers.
History tells us that the Autism Mom is a product of social forces, and she’s not alone; she is joined by the rarely-discussed Schizophrenia Mom and the somewhat new-on-the-scene ADHD Mom, all of which advocate for biomedical models of disorder and treatment for their children, and all of which built powerful lobbying organizations like Autism Speaks, NAMI, and CHADD to do so.
This is a common narrative we see in the memoirs of Autism Moms. Doctors can’t or won’t help them, so they have to become their own experts on autism, implement their own treatments, and even become their child’s own personal ABA therapist. This is framed as a virtuous endeavor, an “Autism Super Mommy” saving the day.
When patients were released from institutions en masse in the 60’s, due to an idealistic but under-funded and ultimately failed plan to shift care from state institutions to community-based clinics, many parents of schizophrenic adults were left having to care for their kids with no support, in addition to being saddled with a whole ton of guilt for supposedly causing their conditions in the first place.
Many of these parents, with the support of bio-psychiatrist Herbert Pardes, director of the National Institute for Mental Health, joined together to form the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which today is one of the most powerful biomedical advocacy groups for mental illness in the United States.
The advocacy group CHADD was formed by parents of children with ADHD for similar reasons.
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