Cadence: Does being autism make me bad?
Angela: What makes you wonder if being autism makes you bad?
Cadence: Grown ups always say it’s hard being mum or dad if your kid is autism and it said on the TV if you are autism you hurt people. And kids who are autism have to be put in a gate to keep others safe or tied up.
Angela: Do you think I believe those things are true, or that I would say them?
Angela: What do you believe?
Cadence: I don’t like hurting people. I don’t like being scared. I was born autism but that doesn’t mean I was born bad…
Are you crying?
Angela: Yes. I have happy tears that you know what is true and I have sad tears because there are lots of people who don’t know what is true.
Cadence is 7 years old. I think people are supposed to be shocked a child might know how the world works, but that’s not culturally universal. The adults are the ones who have a hard time acknowledging the world is really that ugly. Around 6th grade, I remember thinking that societies have low-status scapegoats and I was unfortunately born as one of them. I could tell I was fundamentally different. Sometimes I thought of it as if something in me being atrophied or dead. Sometimes I thought not having a soul was a good metaphor for it. At any rate, it gets internalized.
In year 2 of therapy, I realized normal people have high self-esteem because people praised them, not because they have some deep self-acceptance wisdom that would make them immune to stigma if we traded places.