One of the most frustrating misconceptions out there…
Has anyone ever heard it said that a child with autism is a product of bad parenting? This “bad parenting” topic became a somewhat viral discussion in 2012 when clinical psychologist Dr. Tony Humphreys linked autism to parenting. Although Humphreys would later clarify some of his findings, saying parents are “never to blame,” his research had many people talking about the overall effects of parents on children with autism.
Many of these issues arise when I talk to parents today. Most of them, especially when their child is just diagnosed, blame themselves in one way or another for their child’s diagnosis. It’s heartbreaking. During those conversations, I share that I’m not a scientist by any means, but I do have some knowledge from growing up on the spectrum. Though after years of therapy, most of my early challenges were not as difficult to me anymore.
It’s ridiculous to think “bad parenting” is a cause of autism. That should be the end of the conversation right there. But I do usually follow up these conversations after sharing about my personal experiences by saying the following:
“By being a champion to your child on the autism spectrum, you can make a difference in their lives.”
By showing your child unconditional love, learning more about autism and providing them with supports whenever possible, you can do wonderful things for your child. Advocate for them, and whenever someone says autism is “caused” by bad parenting, make sure to educate those around you about the harm of these misconceptions. And the next time that happens, you can use this quote from one of our leading autism advocates, Dr. Temple Grandin: “Autism is a neurological disorder. It’s not caused by bad parenting.”