Every day, many new parents find out that their child is autistic. When that diagnosis comes, it should come with understanding, with tools to understand their child and to support them in the best way possible.
It should not come with instructions for abuse. Which is what Autism Uncensored by Whitney Ellenby is.
In a Washington Post article, Ellenby describes an incident in which she forced her autistic son into an experience, knowing that it would cause fear and sensory overload, so that he could experience a live performance. She writes, “what I did…might not have been right or even safe.” And yet she describes the experiences she inflicted upon her son in great detail, concluding with a statement that “what worked for him was a single, traumatic episode.”
Ellenby understands that what she did to her son was wrong. She acknowledges that it was damaging to her son’s well-being, but justifies it as being necessary to help her son overcome his difficulties with public spaces. By being allowed to publish a book full of stories like these, of her methods for harming her son, she is further validated in believing that she was in the right.
If a woman wrote about deliberately traumatizing her non-autistic son, most people would agree that she should be reported for abuse and that her son should be taken away from her. Most people would be outraged to find out that she was publishing a book about those experiences.
So why is is acceptable, even celebrated, for a woman to write about deliberately traumatizing her autistic son, even if she truly believes that it’s for the right reasons? Why is it that her story is called “magnificently honest” and described as a “book of love”?
This is not what love looks like. Love is not pushing your disabled child beyond their limits to make them less disabled. Love is not exploiting your son’s medical condition for your own personal fame. Love is respect, and understanding, and acceptance.
Autistic people may be different, but they are not less. They are no less valuable to society, no less loved by their families, or no less important to their friends, than non-autistic people are. Books like Autism Uncensored, which promote the mistreatment of autistics, teach the world that this is not true, that autistics really are less than human or less deserving of decency. They teach the world that it is acceptable to treat autistics differently, especially in the name of “helping” them. And this is not okay.
Parents of children who have just been diagnosed with autism, and who read Autism Uncensored, might believe that the best way to help their child is to use her methods. Instead of listening to autistic adults, they may try to resort to dangerous, even abusive methods to “cure” their children. In a world where misguided parents try to feed bleach to their autistic children, the last thing parents of autistics need is more misinformation, more opportunities to do harm to their children.
The pattern of allowing the mistreatment of disabled people has to end. Please sign this petition to tell Koehler Books to stop supporting the mistreatment of autistic children and to protect other autistics by preventing the release of the damaging book Autism Uncensored.
tl;dr In Autism Uncensored, Whitney Ellenby details her abuse of her autistic son. To publish this book would be to condone her actions and to promote the further mistreatment of autistics. Although Autism Uncensored is sold as a story of love and success, it is in fact a tale of a mother who refuses to accept her autistic child and his unique needs. The book should not be published.