In the news

I just finished watching the movie The Miracle Worker about Helen Keller. I love a good tear jerker. Although my Beth isn’t deaf or blind it still brought forth all the emotions that were shown in the movie, how to unlock that little girl’s potential. That’s how I feel every day. Sometimes I see a glimpse of her greatness and I’m in awe of what she actually could achieve if I knew the path to show her the way.

I read an article in the paper yesterday which made me go cold. It was about a facility in the United States which used shock therapy as a treatment for autistic individuals among others. Kids lived in at this place and were subject to ‘2 second bee sting type shocks’ every once in a while to curb their behaviours. They were made to sit in a chair and be encouraged to do these bad behaviours, then be shocked when they did them. In other words they were shocked by doing what they were told. The end result was to have them sitting in the chair passively, clearly too scared to do anything else. It made me feel sick to read it. Sure, there are some behaviours that frustrate the hell out of me when Beth does them but I also know that a lot of them can’t be helped. What a barbaric way to treat autism. One man spoke of his time there, saying that people were made to get out of bed and shocked numerous times after somebody had played a practical joke and said they had left the grounds. None of the people treated had gotten better because of this, in fact many of them stayed in the facility year after year.

I did however, through my revulsion, feel such pity for the parents having to resort to these measures. They told of children who self mutilated so much that they felt there was no choice. One child pulled his own teeth out, another kept jumping out of a moving car. I know personally of children who do both of these things. I don’t know what I would do if my child was that severe. I’ve always said that I’d try anything with Beth as long as it wasn’t invasive and it didn’t hurt. How can this not be considered child abuse? If smacking children is child abuse then electric shocks must be torture surely? I can’t see anything that would make me resort to these measures. I do however have a child that in these terms is not that severe. I have family and friends who support me and medication to keep me somewhat sane, and I still find it bloody hard. How awful for a parent to feel that this is their only choice. Thank God for my Bethie.

I’ll end this post on a positive note. I forgot that when we were away in Inverloch the next door neighbour Anna popped in for a visit. I was trying to get Beth to put her pyjamas on and was very aware that there were 6 other kids in the house who didn’t want to see her starkers. My Bill hates it when she jumps around naked. I went to her room to get her pjs and when I came out she was standing there with no pants on at all, just her t shirt, chatting to Anna. After telling her that no, you can’t stand naked in company, I got her dressed and sent her off to bed. We were all having a good laugh about it. Anna said even though she was standing there in all her glory she was speaking very well, complimenting her so nicely on her glasses. It was lovely that it was completely irrelevant to Anna that Beth had no pants on!

About Sarah

Mother of an autistic child wanting to write about my personal experiences
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