Destroying the Shelters

My mother has, to this point, not really been the major factor in my entries she deserves to be. My mother is a powerful force of nature who fought to get me help. She has been supportive of me my whole life. Part of that support came in an unlikely form: refusing to shelter me due to my disorder.

Giving me a special plan for school? Sure. That included having a set of textbooks at home and typing my assignments on computers. But I paid the price for my outbursts and my grades weren’t curved due to who I was. My mother’s goal was to get me on my feet and I am.

But that’s not universal and to be blunt, it aggravates me. I’ve seen a lot of people in my situation be sheltered their whole lives and I really think that does as much damage as the disorder in its way. I don’t blame my peers for wanting to avoid a world that isn’t exactly friendly to us. I don’t blame parents for wishing to shield their children from harm. They just shouldn’t.

Why does sheltering kids outrage me so? Because living in the real world isn’t optional. I’ve seen so many people with the disorder reach my age and be lost. They can’t function. It’s very common for them to stay pretty close to, if not remain at, home. (1) They also seem locked into a mindset that rejects the real world. They get angry that the world won’t shift to fit them. I’m guilty of this, mind you. Stubbornness just comes with the disorder. I think part of the reason we wind up being sheltered is that stubbornness. Who wants to be told they’re wrong?

But ultimately, the best intentions have dire consequences. We wind up assuming that we are helpless and I don’t buy that! We need to be taught that yeah, we’re not going to think like others and we aren’t going to fit in. But by accepting that we can move on and learn to work in the real world. Shouldn’t we encourage the high functioning part, not the autism part?

Fundamentally this comes back to how I feel about the education system as well as parents. I’m not sure how I feel about it currently since I’m 11 years removed from public schools but I felt like they tried nicely. Not segregating me from the others was nice. (2) I went to a first rate school district which helped. They were remarkably ahead of the curve.

What do I think the ideal is? I think it’s simple: don’t protect your kids. Let them hurt a bit. (3) Let them grow and learn. Help us, work with us, but don’t candy coat the real world. We’ll learn sooner or later.

NOTE: This is hardly a problem limited to the disorder. I live in the south and I see the effects of sheltering a lot. I have friends who have been raised in extremely restrictive environments of all kinds. One of two things will happen inevitably. In the first case, they will rebel as wildly as possible at the first opportunity. In the second, they become like their parents. I’ve always felt the second variant was fated to be that way no matter what. I know and love both.

(1) I am not knocking living at home. We’re in the after effects of the recession. I get it.

(2) Honor roll vet, academic scholarship, and as I’ll soon discuss, king of the Journalism room

(3) This does not mean accepting bullying. My mother handled that right. The schools didn’t. I despise bullying with the fury of the sun. I don’t stand for it. Hurting means making mistakes. NOT accepting that.

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3 thoughts on “Destroying the Shelters

  1. I think *too* much shelter is as bad as you suggest. But life can be devastatingly difficult, whether on the spectrum or not. My son, who is on a similar location to myself on the very high functioning end, has had experiences dark enough to make him believe – I think for quite some time – that he was the bad guy in the story of his life and in our family. Wildly imperfect parenting and a standard, not particularly shielded environment, are some of the contributing factors, I think, towards him feeling that negative. If standard are too high, then failure is too easy. It takes time to learn to live in this world – even for the neurotypical.

    I feel an environment that is incredibly easy to succeed in, but gets progressively harder over time, requiring more patience, is one of the keys to learning. I feel that is true in schools as well as the home.

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