As an autistic mother of autistic children, I once allowed my now ex partner to discreetly film my sons meltdown.
In the three minute video I was hit thirty three times, my sons distress was complete and it was heartbreaking to see.
The short was shown to the pediatrician (with no volume and without my sons knowledge) to show the level of his distress in meltdown mode to get him more support.
My son one day stumbled on the video while playing an app on my iPad and watched it, his reaction was devastating.
He was sorrowful and scared by it, he also had no memory of it.
I can empathise with that as when I have had a meltdown I will often shut it out of my mind as it’s so distressing.
I held him and told him it didn’t matter that it hadn’t been his fault and that I had only shown it to his paed to get him some more help.
But could I have told him that and felt right with myself if I had posted it online…let’s say on Facebook for others to see?
Of course I couldn’t, it would be an intrusion of his privacy and to me a grossly unfair and totally inappropriate thing to do.
It would have been disrespectful and hurtful, whether he was aware or not, I would know.
So why is it that so many parents and carers watch and sometimes provoke their children into meltdown then film it to put on social media?
Why, when your child is at their most vulnerable, mentally pained with fight or flight adrenaline rushing through them, stomachs churning and ears roaring, would a parent think it’s a great time to pick up their phone. Select camera. Then video. Then select to film it, instead of helping their child?
Not all children will allow touch when in a meltdown mode, to some it can feel repulsive or shocking but to some they may need a firm hug.
They may seek reassurance, they may need to be watched very closely in case they self injure or injure someone else, and there’s always a risk of them running into a road….
But you reach for your phone?
And post in Facebook groups with hundreds, sometimes thousands of people….
And caption it with ‘Rough day here today!’ Or ‘Guess who didn’t get their way?’ Or even as I once saw ‘I’m now taking all his furniture apart from his mattress, he will learn!’ .
Why not comfort or aid your child?
The excuses when challenged range from… ‘People need to see what I go through’, ‘People need to see autism at its worst’ and ‘I needed opinions’.
Most memorable to me is ‘It’s a warning to others of what to expect if you have autism in your house!’.
The only time you could possibly have a reason to film a meltdown is to show it to an educational professional, social worker, medical professional, therapist or paediatrician there is no other excusable reason to do it.
I want you to imagine for a moment that you are low, you’re so low you’re crying, to you the world is ending and a rage and devastation so complete in its entirety is engulfing you.
Your screaming such is your despair, and you are panicking, you desperately look around in your fog of hell and see the person you love and trust to protect you holding up a camera…..
How would it feel?
Please find it in you to respect your little person.
Children have a right to privacy and to not be degraded and filmed for pity party postings to benefit the parent.
They also have a right to not have pictures taken of them naked or partially clothed in a nappy or pants and have that posted for the world to see to, be aware you are not your child’s owner.
You are their carer and advocate so act as such.
I have written many articles and, with my children’s permission have used their pictures in a respectful and educational way.
Never ever would I disrespect my children by exposing their distress or more extreme sensory habits, it’s not what a parent or any decent person does.
Every picture I post of my children publicly I ask them first, I select carefully and I bear in mind that once it’s out on the internet it can be shared, saved, memed and printed by anyone.
Please be mindful and please be respectful.