My son recently said to me, “The Internet thinks of autism as stupid people. Stupid and autism go hand in hand, on the Internet.”
I asked him to clarify that statement. And, he did.
He said, “When I read things on the Internet about autism, it seems like autism is called things like stupid. On the Internet. I’ve seen it a bunch of times. The Internet thinks autism means stupid.”
How did I react to that?
Yet, on another hand I did get it because there is a lot of “bad” information on the Internet.
What did I do?
I talked to him about how un-informed, inexperienced, and uneducated people will often just describe something based only on their limited experiences and lack of real knowledge of a subject.
They do this from ignorance, possibly not even meaning to be hurtful. They simply don’t have the experience.
And, they often do it on the Internet.
I said that he (my son) knows his own strengths and weaknesses. He knows he has autism and he understands what it means to him. He can explain himself quite well (at this age).
He says he knows that autism doesn’t mean stupid.
I told him to ignore those things on the Internet. The Internet can be an awful place at times.
To piggyback on this “How autism is discussed on the Internet,” I recently had to delve into an inappropriate use of the word, “autism,” on a site that my son uses.
My son plays a game called Super Smash Brothers 4, Smash 4 for short.
He has been playing for over a year. He attends tournaments and tries to compete. He usually doesn’t get very far in competition, but there’s more to it than just competing in a tournament.
My son is super social at these events, both small “locals” and/or big “majors.” He has discovered a niche and he’s happy and comfortable when he’s at these events.
My son is a member of the Smash community.
Within this community, the players can play each other online and can chat. There are community forums, like one on Twitter and Facebook.
On one of these forums, a Smash player posted a video to discuss what he said is a “toxic” Smash community. He discussed this topic for almost fifty minutes on this video.
What that the problem?
Not at all. This is an experienced player discussing his experiences and expressing his opinion.
What was the problem?
To explain his position…he discussed his position from three different angles. The first one was called, “Age Range and Mentality.”
To this player, he wanted to begin to explain why he feels that this fighting game community is the worst out there, the most toxic, and he wanted to begin with this topic…The young players. Children who play computer games.
Except, he had to say it this way…
“For those that fit this category that I’m about to speak of, you guys are about to be triggered. With that being said, I’m just going to go ahead and say it…
He then goes on to call the Smash community toxic (as he currently sees it) partly because of this topic number one…Because the Smash community is mostly composed of…
“…Under-aged, weeaboos (no idea what that means), egotistical, spoiled, young, autistic brats that play too (*%&^) much and act like they don’t know any better.”
Worse, he adds graphics on the background of a Smash game with these written words…”under-aged” “weeaboos” “egotistical” “spoiled” “young” “AUTISTIC” “BRATS”
Wow. He had to add the words at this time just to get his point across?
What did I do?
Well, I was triggered all right…
First, he goes on to joke that his listeners need to calm down. (He does this by talking to one guy.)
Second, later on he states…“This is not to say that each and every single person in the community or involved around it is like this, but sadly, it’s the demographic…the majority of the people who are in it, do act like this. A lot of it has to do with the age and mentality.”
Well, I can’t let that go.
So, I commented…
To paraphrase, I calmly wrote that he needed to… get some education about autism. By using the word autistic (and following it up with “brat”) was hurtful, and he has no idea how he was hurting an entire community (the autism community, not the Smash community).
I told this person that he… has no idea what autism is, what an individual with autism really looks like, and how they struggle.
I added…To put on the Internet a term like “autistic brat” the way he did triggered this person (a member of some standing of the autism community) to urge this player to learn! Please, learn what you’re talking about before carelessly using that hurtful term.
I was not mean in any way, I was encouraging…encouraging this player to get more educated.
Which is what I said to my son. I told him that the way I like to see it is people will say things from an uneducated place. When autism equals stupid, or when an adult carelessly using the words, “autistic brats,” when I just want those people to learn more about what they’re talking about.
Autism is everywhere these days.
Especially on the Internet.
What the Internet thinks of autism can be greatly improved if people who just read, listen, or learn from something or someone about the topic. Learn about autism, before trying to talk about it.
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