Friday, April 5, 2013

The Autistic Truman Show

  I often browse YouTube for videos pertaining to Aspergers and Autism.  I do this to the point that at least one or two of the videos that are tagged as "Recommended for You" are related to Autism.  Curiosity gets the better of me sometimes and I watch them.  Occasionally they are good, like this.

  More often I get links to pure crap, like the Autism Speaks channel or something having to do with Simon Baron-Cohen and his male-brain theory, which I have past commented on here

  Most disturbingly of all, I will see a thumbnail of a small child, and the word Autism in the video title.  I know what it is.  Sadly, it's another episode of the Autistic Truman Show, starring an unfortunate child that does not know that his life is being shared with the global public for "educational purposes".

  For those that don't get my metaphor here.  The Truman Show is a movie about a man whose life is being recorded for a reality TV show, except he is not aware of it.

  I am not going to share any links to these videos.  I respect the privacy of these children much more than the parents posting them apparantly.  I am going to describe the offensive content I have seen in the videos and comment boxes.

  One of the first of these I have seen had a boy about 30 months old playing alone in a playground.  The video poster explains that the video was taken weeks before his diagnosis.  Very somber music is played in the background as he plays alone.  The uploader comments instructs the viewer to watch the video at the end for signs of stimming.   At least the uploader did not identify the name of her child. 

 One uploader shared a video of a toddlers birthday party, and invites the viewer to play a game of "which one of these is not like the other" when she challenges you to identify her Autistic daughter from the other children.

  A series of videos exploits a child growing up from ages 2-5.  It starts with the child happily dancing and twirling as he discovers a dishwasher, and covers his math interests through school.  The parent repeatedly questions the child in one video as to why he is counting, which after several interruptions he replies "because I feel like it" (highlight of the series).  In another video, the parent calls to attention the child's unusual body movements.  He is doing math in Spanish on an educational toy.  He flaps and rocks excitedly as he gets the answers right.  The point of the video, according to the uploader is to bring to attention the signs of autism to other parents so that they may get their children in therapy and diet modification if they show these signs.  Not that a child of age 5 is showing extreme enthusiasm towards learning and has advanced skills for his age.

  The sickest one I saw was one of a 2 year old girl building towers with blocks.  The parent knocks her tower over purposefully to incite a meltdown.  There are a lot of videos of kids having a meltdown, incited or otherwise.  Do yourself a favor and don't watch them.

  Commentary in the videos varies of sympathy for the poster and gaslighting, with a good deal of trolling thrown in for good measure.  NT parents often discuss exchanging videos of their own child with the poster of the diagnosed child, seeking their advice for a diagnosis.

   Someday these children are going to discover that they were involuntary social media stars, and their life, their play and their meltdowns were submitted to the worldwide public for a case study performed by Soccer Mom M.D.  They are going to figure out that they are a tool for soliciting public sympathy and empathy by their parents.  They are going to have further proof that both the real world and the internet views them as an "other", and most sadly their own parents if they have not already.

  Your Autistic child deserves the same privacy that everyone deserves.  Especially in the most intimate location, their home and from the most trusted people, their parents.  They are people, not living Public Service Announcements.       

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