Autistics are Not Your Inspiration

It is no secret that my family and I are involved in Boy Scouts of America. Last night there was a business meeting that I thought I had to attend because I am the scout master of a girls troop and my husband went because he is the cub master for a cub scout pack.

It was nothing like we expected. We were not sure what to expect. It was in a reception hall, above a bank. There were decorations on the stairs. They were very rustic and scout like. They were mason jars with each point of the scout law. I thought it was a nice touch.
We got there a few minutes late due to traffic. In South Florida, the snow birds are down here so there are a lot more cars on the road. Not complaining but explaining why.
When we signed in, the room was packed. There was one seat available. My husband let me take the seat since I was working all day. It was like a reception. People talking and applauding. They were speaking about how well the council did. I agree.
This is when sensory overload started but I was able to keep it in check. It was not easy.
They showed a video, which showed my 10 year old son climbing the wall in this blog post . They had a drone around camp and it was nice to actually see him climbing. They did not use him for inspiration, did not mention he is autistic, which I am relieved about.
After the video, they called up different people to speak on their experiences. One of the people is what sparked this blog. A mother and cubmaster/scoutmaster of a unit ,in a different district, just for children with additional needs. She made herself look like a super mom for adopting two autistic children. She stated they “otherwise would not be in scouting.” She paraded her two children in front of the large group. They both clearly wanted to speak but she would not allow them to. She simply spoke for them. She went on how scouting allowed her son to be out of self contained classes like there was something wrong with that! I was fuming.

There is a lot to unpack from that presentation. She is not a super mom for adopting autistic kids. Autistic kids are not harder to love. Autistic kids go through similar and different challenges to typical children. She is a mother who has children who are different. That is it. Nothing more, nothing less.
 Her parading her children in front of the council as inspiration porn. Her children deserve dignity. When her children wanted to speak, she shushed them. How dare she? It was not about her, it was about the scouts.
Autistic scouts are in typical units all over the council. A segregation unit did not have to be created. My 9 year old diabetic autistic son (I differentiate because I have two 9 year olds and I do not want to reveal identities) was also non verbal when he came to me. We worked with him and put him in scouts. I am still the den leader and he does just fine with his typical peers. They did not have to make a separate pack for him. (They do have our kids in a seperate den due to an ableist father but thats another story for another day. To make you feel better, the autistic scouts in our pack are closer to rank than the typical ones are. ) Their fellow scouts teach new scouts how to interact with their autistic peers. That is how it should be. This way everyone is accepting and its a positive environment for everyone.
Segregating scouts is wrong. They are not being inclusive, they are being exclusive.
I  met this mother at a district committee training. She told me I knew nothing about autistic people. When I mentioned I am autistic, she looked down and walked away. As she walked away, I told her to google my name and autism. I had the last laugh.
I am off my soap box now. After all the presentations, there was a band playing. I was literally shaking from sensory overload. My husband wanted us to say hi before I left. Our district executive apologized because he did not know what to expect either.
It occurred to me, if an autistic adult could not handle it, how could autistic children? Bringing them into this kind of environment and expecting them to be just fine is very wrong.

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