In my experience, older generations seem to have a really hard time when the loved ones in their life reveal they’ve been diagnosed with some kind of mental, cognitive, or emotional disorder. And when I say “really hard time” I don’t mean struggling to find words to support and show love. I mean they gaslight, deride, and flat out refuse to believe that the diagnosis is real. They’re almost offended. For one student who recently revealed her autism diagnosis to their mother, all of those negative reactions took place in a wild text exchange that was posted to Reddit’s “Insane Parents” thread.
Titled “These were not the words I wanted to hear after my diagnosis,” the Redditor shared screenshots of their conversation with their mother, which was anything but supportive.
“I got the results of the autism screening today,” starts the OP. “It’s confirmed that I’m on the spectrum now.”
“Wow. How well did you have to fake those results? Lol,” says the Mom instead of something appropriate.
It gets worse.
“I know my child,” she continues. “If you were autistic I would have known earlier. You just have some social issues to work out.”
Then there’s some guilt and a slur!
“I sheltered you too much. You’re not retarded, you’re just shy.”
The student writes, “wow lmao” which we all know translates into “OH MY GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.” Then they inform their mother that the word “retarded” is a neurotypical slur, to which she responds: “Stop making up words to live up to words on a paper.” It’s all very healthy!
Then there’s the kicker: “You need rest,” says the mother followed by the OP’s absolutely wilting, defeated “ok.”
The OP later followed up with an explanation as to why they sought a diagnosis.
“I was extremely smart for my age growing up. i skipped first grade and stayed in accelerated classes, was reading by age 2 and speaking coherent sentences. i started speaking at 6 months old and was generally a fast developer. however, while i excelled at school i was not very good at making friends and my mother said i wasn’t very good at home. it’s hard for me to break routine and she saw that as disobedience. not to mention i was ‘overly sensitive’ and cried a lot when it seemed like nothing was wrong. I’ve found out now that’s due to sensory issues.”
“My mom used to scream at me when i was younger and ask ‘are you retarded? you might fucking be. I’m going to take you to get tested if you don’t behave.’ so i learned quickly which behaviors were okay to show and which weren’t. long story short, growing up was hard.”
Unfortunately, this upsetting text conversation is not a shocking one, and that we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones living with mental illness and neuroatypical conditions to believe and support them.