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  • Hostage to Silence

A Teachable Moment by a Mature Young Man (according to his proudest parents)

Today, Brady responds to a difficult question posed by a reader who is seeking guidance on a touchy subject.

As a quick aside, Brady’s blog is designed to be a positive, uplifting space to tell his story while showing what an amazing young man he is becoming. At the same time, Brady wants this blog to educate people about autism. When my husband and I created it, we decided that unless malicious in intent, we will share with him any and all submissions.

After all, he is a young adult who expects to be presumed competent.

So, back to setting up the question …

The reader’s subject (which you will soon read) stunned us, and we experienced the natural spectrum of emotions: shock, anger, sadness, and finally resignation, as the subject is not uncommon. To be clear, we were not stunned by the intent of the author, and the scenario she describes was not directed at Brady. Instead, the author is grappling with and is seeking guidance from Brady concerning a serious and mature subject.

So, fighting the urge to shelter Brady from the world, we shared the question with him.

We’re so glad we did!!

What you will now read is a testament to what an amazing human he is (much better than his father or I, that's for sure). Instead of being hurt or saddened but the implications of the question, Brady took the high road and made this a teachable moment.

(One final quick note: This post involves religion, but our answers do not critique religion. Rather, it’s a reflection on how one person, trying to “do good,” can cause greater harm by misunderstanding the nature of autism.)

The question, in its entirety

Hi Brady,

My good friend has an 18 year old son who is autistic. He is verbal but he only has the diagnosed capabilities and speech of a two to three year old.( just for your information, his parents traveled around the country for many many years trying to find help or a solution for their son but we're not successful).

3 days ago my friend her son and her husband went to get there covid vaccination. Which is great news! However, when they were leaving the facility, the employee that administered there vaccine asked if she could pray for their son. This is not the first time that this has happened according to my friend. However, This Woman's prayer included … asking God to cast the demons out of [their son’s] body. What do you say to a person who believes that it is Satan's demons that are causing autism? Clearly I do not believe this nor does my friend. She was so taken aback that she did not know how to respond. I felt that it was a cruel thing for the woman to say. What could she have said to this woman?

Brady’s answers via facilitated Q&A

Facilitator: Do you have anything to say to the parents about them thinking their son has the intelligence of a two yr old?

I think that they need to learn to presume compitence.

Facilitator: How would you explain "presuming competence" to someone who doesn’t know what that means?

the real brady is inside my head. trust that your child is inside. hope you don't believe the outside matches the inside. don't give up and just keep fighting.
I would say that hope you preach kill knowledge.-
It means that her preaching is the death of knowledge. Shows that she knows nothing about us. Autism is not just about knowing our foolish flaws but understanding yours too.

Facilitator: What are your thoughts on how the parents should handle a situation like that?

hope the parents know better than to believe good strong words like that. god thinks we are good just like everyone. praying is good but knowledge takes work.

Facilitator: What would you say to someone in your position if they are autistic and someone wanted to pray for them and they said these comments?

tell them they are good and picked to be beautiful good humans. we have our uniqueness. good kid. good intensions i'm sure.

Facilitator: Does this response make you feel uncomfortable like you don't wanna do it?

yes just want to move to poetry.

Dream just to free myself from those foul thoughts.
These real life foolish feelings.
These terrible gifts are very unapealing.
I don't want to be folded into a very tight shape.
Good to know my wild brain creates a mass escape.
Good will vote hope will win.
My dreams I like to keep within.

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