Okay, so, it’s with a heavy heart that I announce that no longer will I recommend the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism book or community as if they’re on my mental list of good parent resources. They’ve been demoted to “less bad.”
Because of their continued, and worsening, treatment of autistic adults on their community facebook page, which came to a head last night and the night before. For a long while now, autistic people have been held to a higher and higher standard than non-autistic parents in the comment threads of TGPA. It had gotten to the point that some autistic users complained of a seeming “parent’s code” that appeared to prevent real criticism by parents of other users who were parents.
This phenomenon was apparently out in spades Sunday night (I was not there and so cannot speak to it myself) and was definitely apparent last night. While parents derailed and condescended with impunity, Kassiane of Radical Neurodivergence Speaking was banned for (or so it looked to me as a lurking observer) pointing out, repeatedly, the double standard in how autistic non-parents and parents were treated.
Condescending, snide posts by parents went by with impunity (many are, in fact, at the time of this writing still up. One post by a parent talking about those who were upset with her reads used scare quotes to question whether or not people upset with her were in fact adults and repeatedly in more than one comment contrasted that with “reasonable, calm” people she approved of, as just one example), even as they derailed a thread that was supposed to be about how a screwup the night before affected autistic people and how the autistic people wanted things to improve. When moderation action was taken, it came down on posts by autistic posters (not just Kassiane) before it came down on all but the most egregious of parent comments. This on a website that claims to demand “respectful” disagreement.
By contrast, strongly-worded but fairly respectful comments by autistic adults were deleted. One by Cara Creager said essentially that they need to work harder and enforce moderation standards more strictly on parents if they want to be a safe space for autistic adults. That was deleted. The comment questioning whether people disagreeing strongly were competent adults, on the other hand, is still up.
Parents turned a “sorry we messed up, what can we do to make it better?” thread into a “FIX MY CHILD!” thread with total impunity. Adult autistics had their comments deleted and were chided for objecting to this (apparently, respecting the topic of discussion is something only autistic people have to worry about over at TGPA). Kassiane pointed out how this played into the double standard she had been talking about the night before (I was not online Sunday night and so am missing some context here). Shortly thereafter, Kassiane was banned. For “bullying.”
- A parent who questions the mental competency of those who are emotional in their disagreement, who condescends to other adults, and who characterizes emotion as abuse. Same parent acted with disdain towards adults who questioned her insistence on speech over communication.
- Parents (plural!) who took a “how can we do better?” thread and made it all about them and asking autistic people to, among other things, view video of potentially abusive situations.
- A parent who wrote about what a burden raising their child is, who scolded autistic adults and exhorted them not to judge when they were writing about the problems with ABA.
- An autistic advocate who helped build their page, calling them on a double standard in an admittedly abrasive fashion.
- Several autistic people who protested the banning.
I wish that I could tell you to go look at it yourself, but FB hides posts by banned users and I didn’t think to get screen shots. If it turns out that someone else nabbed screen shots, I will update this post with them.
So, for now, they are better than Autism Speaks, but that’s a very low bar to step over. And that’s why I won’t be promoting anything by TGPA anymore – either here, on Twitter, or on Tumblr. I don’t want to be associated with a place that says it’s okay for parents to talk over autistics and ignore the purpose of threads and condescend and question others’ mental competencies… but not okay for autistics to stand up for themselves or to point out double standards in moderation.
I urge TGPA to rethink the enforcement of their moderation policy and their banning of a user whose main crime was not sugarcoating the truth. For my part, I want nothing to do with them until they clean things up there.