Eve Rieland is autistic and has a blog. A lot of it consists of screenshots of people acting like dicks towards autistic people. Her latest one, which you can read here has caused something of a shitstorm.
Basically, there is a closed Facebook group called “The UGLY side of severe autism”. The parents who post there often write really nasty stuff about their autistic offspring (a lot of whom are adults it seems). For example, one parent endorsed putting hot sauce on the lips of autistic people having meltdowns.
So many people who saw Eve’s screenshots wrote in support of the Autism parents! Though none of the supporters are autistic though, I think. They made a few points that I would like to address.
First of all were the comments saying “posting screenshots of things posted in a private group is wrong”. Sorry, but NOTHING shared on the internet is private. No matter the platform. I’ve learnt this the hard way. You should never write anything online that you want to keep completely private. Even PMs (private messages) may not be as private as you think as the other person can take screenshots. If you really want to talk to someone privately, you should talk to them either in person or on the phone. Because recording phone calls or face to face conversations may not be legal or if they are it is a lot of bother so unlikely.
Second line of attack was “these people (who share screenshots eg Eve) lied to join this group”. That is not true. Apparently at the time (they have become more closed now) joining was by open invite. Anyone could join, no questions asked. So no need to lie. Though lying to infiltrate abusive groups in order to expose abuse is a good thing. People using quack treatments such as MMS (bleach) have been exposed in this manner.
The most prevalent comment seems to be “these people are just looking for support”. Not true. If they wanted support they could have phrased things differently. No, they just want to “vent” aka whinge about and write hateful things about autistic people. If you read all the screenshots you can see the pattern. One person writes hate speech against their autistic offspring. And others then join in with their own tales of woe. It is an echo chamber. The only people who try to stem this negatively and offer actual support and solutions are autistic people who have joined the group. And they are inevitably banned.
A lot of these autistics have children who may be labeled with “severe autism”. But they are accused of being “in the wrong group”. Just because they don’t publicly go on about their children doesn’t mean they don’t experience the same things. They just have more respect. And so are accused of not having “severely” autistic, or any, children.
Once Eve wrote her blog post and word got out, these Autism Parents went on the attack. This took many forms.
Some questioned her diagnosis (PSA don’t ever do this) as apparently standing up for oppressed and abused people is not an autistic trait or something. Some resorted to calling her names and sending her vile messages. But then it took a more sinister form…
They started leaving bad reviews on the Facebook page of a charity that Eve was on the Board of (Resources for Independence Central Valley). They made threats against the charity. A charity that helps autistic and disabled people to live independently. They very thing they claim to want for their own children. Eve eventually decided to resign from the board of the charity.
They also threatened legal action against Eve. On what grounds, I don’t actually know. Again, anything shared on Facebook, even in a closed group, is shared publicly. So I’m not aware of any laws she may have broken. But angry people on the back foot always seem to resort to threats of legal action.
Eve is a genuine badass. She works hard to advocate for autistic and disabled people. And she is a lot braver than I ever will be, stepping into the snake pit that these groups so often are. She needs and deserves our support. Together we can show these parents for what they are.
I will leave you with a screenshot of a post she wrote in the aftermath of all of this. I hope to write an image description as soon as I can, but that may be a while as it’s rather long.
Edit: Picture description now follows thanks to a kind autistic person who sent me one. Gestures like this are why I love the autistic community so much.
[Black text on white cell phone screenshot reading:
“Oh, the hate mail is thick today. Good, pay attention:
I wear the shoes of the disabled, often unable to communicate with language, and needing an incredible amount of care.
I wear the shoes of a[sic] autistic person who was abused severely by caregivers: physically, emotionally, financially, sexually, and more.
I wear the shoes of the abused, vulnerable, and totally dependent person when the caregiver was “venting” and getting all the sympathy points …
I wear the shoes while hearing my caregiver “vent” how much work it was to care for me. Me: The burden. The disabled. The problem.
This caregiver got something from that exchange … and the others too. I don’t understand why their “vent” sessions became what felt like a pleasurable past-time for them.
I know the abuse I suffered. I know what it’s like to be without words, cared for in public and in the eyes of others. And punished, starved, and more for my disabilities in private.
Filicide and abuse is so real. The acceptance of it towards autistic people is horrific. It doesn’t start with the headlines in the news. It starts here … and it must be stopped.
There’s a difference between support groups and echo chambers justifying abuse.
I wear the shoes.”]