Bullies are bored.
In the recent “Autism Challenge” videos on TikTok, users are shown mocking people with disabilities, specifically using sounds and gestures to mimic those with autism. These people are making fun of kids like my six-year-old son, and I am not okay with it.
What is funny about someone struggling to get their basic wants, needs and feelings across? Someone who cannot say when their stomach hurts, or that they feel hungry, tired, or sad?
The people shown in these disgusting “Autism Challenge” videos take simple things like communication for granted. They are at home making videos about how people like my son move, jump, flap, bounce and dance to express themselves. We are supposed to laugh and be entertained? Well, we are not.
And let me tell you, we are not bored.
We are struggling. The safety of routine in my boy’s world was ripped away by quarantine, something we have found impossible to explain to him via visuals or a social story.
We are here, listening to the piercing screaming, working on food therapy, language development, self-care, co-regulation, and self-calming skills. We continue to work on safety in our home with hopes to get back to working on safety out in the community soon.
We are here, painfully watching a six-year-old battle anxiety. We are his calm in the storm of aggression, self-injury, and fear.
This kid is not bored.
He puts in work, all day, every day. He is resilient. He is tough. He is smart, curious, brave, gentle, kind and he understands much more than he can say. He has more heart than these mindless TikTok “Autism Challengers” probably ever will.
Thankfully, for now, these videos break my heart, not his.
It completely devasts me that he will eventually cross paths with ignorant people like this.
We need to do better.
I am talking to my fellow parents. The most appalling part of this video challenge was the parent’s involvement. Some were behind the camera and some were even participating in the mockery.
We need to teach our children that their words and actions carry weight. They affect people, they can hurt people.
We need to show our children how to stand up and use their voice when they see people mistreated.
Inaction is easy. When we advocate together, change will happen.
Wow – I (thankfully) haven’t seen any of these. It makes me furious and makes me cry. Having a set of twins, one autistic, middle school (particularly) was a nightmare with Anni trying to defend Jimmy to many kids – including lots of the “popular” boys. It starts at the top … we have a president who mocks the disabled. The whole culture needs to change. Kindness needs to be the norm. And with autistic kids, because they don’t have any identifying physical differences, assumptions are very often made quickly due to their behavior. My heart breaks knowing people are finding this kind of thing amusing and entertaining. It’s not.
It’s so incredibly sad and disgusting and enraging! Don’t watch. I didn’t much, just hearing details and seeing short clips was more than enough. Thankful our kiddos have awesome siblings. I am not looking forward to those HS years- teens can be so brutal!
You’re right about the lack of physical differences part, I have found that pretty difficult when I know people are making assumptions on Wilson’s behaviors. This is all so heartbreaking and needs to change.