What if Tyler had been born 20+ years prior to 1992? Eight Horrifying Possibilities:

During a recent visit to my Autistic Son’s group home to pick him up for a weekend of leisure time with us, I was so struck by how well this has all worked out for him.I have since reflected on many “What If’s”:  Here is a glimpse at what history tells me:

  1. During the 30’s Tyler possibly would have been “kept in a cage”. (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/early-history-autism-america-180957684/#mBgad3HxgGrLVaVX.99)
  2. Tyler likely would have been left to wander, “unwashed and uncared for”. (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/early-history-autism-america-180957684/#mBgad3HxgGrLVaVX.99), like a stray dog.
  3. Tyler could have ended up on a farm as a slave. – “Howe gave this account: “If (Billy) is told to go and milk the cows, he stands and repeats over the words, ‘Billy, go and milk the cows,’ for hours together, or until someone tells him something else, which he will repeat over in the same way.” (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/early-history-autism-america-180957684/#mBgad3HxgGrLVaVX.99)
  4. Tyler might have ended up in institutions that were “more like warehouses than schools, these institutions confined people in overcrowded conditions, while delivering little that could be called education.” “Often children were shipped off to institutions, which resembled prisons. They were left to rot away and were intentionally meant to be kept out of the way of those who were “normal” in society. Due to the lack of compassion, care, and acceptance of the disabled children, early public schools were never forced to create a program to educate this part of the population”. “(http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/early-history-autism-america-180957684/#mBgad3HxgGrLVaVX.99)
  5. Tyler probably would have been labeled “Mentally Retarded, Daft of plain Stupid” and been “ignored or neglected.” (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/early-history-autism-america-180957684/#mBgad3HxgGrLVaVX.99)
  6. We as his family would have probably “moved downward in social status, frowned upon, and socially ostracized. Disabled children were religiously viewed as Satan’s children and were a result of the parents’ sins prior to childbirth.” (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/early-history-autism-america-180957684/#mBgad3HxgGrLVaVX.99)
  7. I would have been considered a “Refrigerator Mother” a term “coined around 1950 as a label for mothers and parents of children diagnosed with autism.  When Leo Kanner first identified autism in 1943, he noted the lack of warmth among the parents of autistic children. Parents, particularly mothers, were often blamed for their children’s atypical behavior, which included rigid rituals, speech difficulty, and self-isolation.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refrigerator_mother_theory)
  8. During the 70’s Tyler would have probably gone to these schools: “public schools used techniques such as scream rooms, restraint, and verbal abuse. Scream rooms were often rooms with a single color wall, contained a chair/desk, no windows, and a door. They were used for children with disabilities as a form of punishment. A characteristic of children with Autism is self-infliction of pain. The children would be kept in these rooms for hours at a time and would often scratch the walls, hit their heads, or cause harm to their bodies as an escape from insanity. Verbal abuse was utilized to deal with these children because teachers lacked patience and did not necessarily care about the children because they were still undervalued in society.”(http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/early-history-autism-america-180957684/#mBgad3HxgGrLVaVX.99)

But Tyler received the benefits of the present time: Early intervention at the age of three from the public-school system; Individualized and Intensive programming in which I was notified for each PPT (Planning and Placement Team) meeting in order to determine an appropriate IEP for Tyler; Tyler’s teachers made sure the assignments were clear and on point. If there was a change in schedule, they understood the importance to tell Tyler because children with Autism are meticulous about their schedule; Speech Therapy teachers worked hard to try many communication techniques, including vocal devices, picture books with basic labeled functions for Tyler to point to and aided in his verbalization; Amazing teachers and paraprofessionals in our public school systems (Cobb County School http://www.cobbk12.org/District and Cherokee County School https://cherokeek12.net/ District) worked with Tyler from age 3 years old until he aged out of school at 22 years old; Communities which embraced our family; Church (Noonday Baptist http://www.noondaychurch.org/) which bought Tyler an expensive Tracking device that we couldn’t afford which saved his life on many occasions; care-givers at Noonday Baptist who volunteered their time and efforts to watch Tyler while our family got much needed worship, support and love; Loving people who voluntarily came into our home and helped us with Tyler on a daily basis for many years.

As I bent over Tyler at the hotel last weekend to give him a “goodnight kiss” he was giggling and delightful. All I could think was “Thank God this precious child was born in 1992.”

This entry was posted in Autism, Language develpment, Life Lessons, Resources, Special Children, Special Needs. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What if Tyler had been born 20+ years prior to 1992? Eight Horrifying Possibilities:

  1. Linda Grady says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this Vicki! Glad that he is doing so well and that he was born when he was and had wonderful teachers ❤️


  2. Joyce says:

    Intended to tell you how much I like this post. Great job!!!


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