A website called The Mighty has been at the center of the controversy. They are a disability-focused online publication whose tagline is:
They have re-published a few of my articles before and gave Sesame Street really great coverage when we launched our autism initiative.
However many writers with disabilities and folks within the disability advocacy community have been upset with The Mighty for awhile and a recent post on there called "Meltdown Bingo" was the straw that broke the camels back and they reacted loudly. Check out the hashtag #crippingthemighty .
That is specifically what I want to touch on today because this is one of those rare times that the disability advocacy & I seem to be on the same page.
They don't like inspiration porn. And guess what neither do I.
To understand why I don't like inspiration porn let's go into the Way-back machine before I started writing the Autism Daddy blog.
I've written before that I started this blog because when I was looking around nobody was showing the reality of what it's like living in Autism household.
Too many other blogs were in my words presenting a "rainbows and sunshine" view of being an autism parent.
And before I dove into this autism blog and community the only stories that were being shared with me and that went viral with the mainstream media and the Nero typical folks were these feel good stories/inspiration porn.
The autistic kid who scored six 3 pointers at his high school basketball game is a perfect example.
That story happened TEN years ago, in 2006, and I still get sent a link to that story at least once every six or seven months from somebody who acts like it just happened yesterday.
Neat story but in my opinion the players and coaches did a little too much patting themselves on the back. More on that later.
But more importantly these types of feel-good stories didn't show my reality.
It seems that the only disability stories that go "viral" are these feel-good stories and it wasn't until I joined the autism blogging community did I realize that there's all bunch of other people out there writing reality.
Whether it be parents writing about their ups & downs or people with disabilities writing about what it's like being in their shoes.
So basically I've got two main problems with inspiration porn. One that I think is totally in step with the problems the disability advocates have and one that I think they won't agree with at all and maybe is unique to being a parent of a kid with a disability
The one that the disability advocates will agree with is that very often, in my opinion, in the stories that go crazy viral the kid with a disability didn't do anything miraculous. They just did something that all kids do and we're treating them like a God for something that we should be happy that they did.
Or the story slants the other way and show neurotypical able-bodied people just doing something nice and being a decent human being and the story goes viral and then these people get treated like some sort of a God.
A Michigan woman's photo of a birthday cake is going viral after she shared her sweet encounter with the autistic bakery employee who decorated it with a personal touch.
Lisa Sarber Aldrich of Grand Rapids wrote on Facebook that she went to a Meijer grocery store to pick out a cake when she asked a "bakery-looking employee" to write a message for her.
The employee took a while to return, and once she did, Aldrich realized it wasn't the "happy birthday" decoration she expected.
"I looked her in the eye and said thank you before I even looked at the cake. After looking, I nervously laughed and headed to check out — it didn't really matter to me that it looked so bad — I thought people would think it was funny," Aldrich said on Facebook.
Cashiers and managers came over to look at the cake when Aldrich went to pay. A cashier told her the employee has autism.
"To my surprise, after they discussed it, one cashier put her arm on my shoulder and said, 'The girl who wrote that has autism. Thank you for smiling and thanking her — even though she's not supposed to write on cakes, you probably made her day,'" Aldrich wrote.
Aldrich's post has been shared over 93,000 times on Facebook. She says she is surprised by how much attention her story has received.
Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi confirmed the details of Aldrich's story to NBC News, and said the grocery chain is proud to have staff that includes people with disabilities.
"This team member was trying to provide great customer service, and our customer was very kind in the way she handled the situation," Guglielmi said. "We believe this story seems to resonate with people because it sends the message that a little kindness can go a long way."
Anyone that's my first issue with inspiration porn...that's the one that's in step with the disability advocacy community.
My other issue is where me and the disability advocate community probably part ways.
My problem with this inspiration porn is that very often that is all you see read or hear about in the mainstream media I wrote this in a previous blog post years back that totally pertains to this.
People are always sending me links to feel good stories about autism. They mean well, but they don't know the true side, the tough side...
And lately when autism is on the news it's a feel good story about a high functioning kid doing something great and profound. And I think that spins autism in too positive a light. It makes people think that autism is not that bad.
"They’re just a little quirky like the Asperger’s rocker on American idol a few years back" people might think.
I think America needs to see the dark side of autism more often, like my son, the nonverbal, non-potty-trained 8 year old who bangs his head, won't eat, has crazy stomach/ bowel movements and severe ADD & ADHD on top of his severe autism.
I like to read the feel good stories too...but the feel good stories are all you hear/ read/ see about autism in the mainstream media.
And I honestly think when we are fundraising or trying to get more government $$ for autism if all people know are the feel good stories people might think, "why give them research $$, they're just quirky kids...."
And that's where I stand on inspiration porn for the most part I don't like it. It is "click bait". For the most part it's just a way for the mainstream neurotypical, able bodied community to read about disabilities in a sweet and kind and gentle way that makes them feel better about themselves... And in the grand scheme of things they are not even scratching the surface.
If you're gonna shop Amazon anyway, can I ask that you enter Amazon by using the search box above? This way I can make a little money. This blogging thing has been awesome & life changing for me... but I must admit that it's taking up a lot more time than I ever thought... so if I can make a few bucks it'll make it easier for me to justify....Love you all! Thanks!!