Springingtiger's Blog


Of Dirty Diapers and Neglected Nappies

I was horrified to read on Facebook of a special needs child daily being sent home in the same nappy, unchanged, as he started the day, sometimes soaking wet. There was a considerable comments thread, not surprisingly, many parents were angry, so was I. I was also very sad; just because a child, a person, can’t express themself does not mean they don’t feel. They feel discomfort, but they also feel embarrassed and humiliated, my eyes are stinging as I write this, as some of my childhood memories are as raw today as the chapped legs were then. To deliberately leave a child dirty and uncomforted is child abuse, plain and simple.

This saddens me still more because it is not an isolated incident. Anyone who had an interest in autism finds themselves, day after day, reading reports of children being mistreated and accused, accounts of children being excluded by teachers and classmates, of strangers complaining about their behaviour in public places. Reading the news is a harrowing experience when one is autistic, related to someone with autism, or an advocate for the autistic. Year after year we spend April trying to raise awareness of autism and by May the second, yet again we read about autistic children being abused. Why do we bother? To stop this, obviously, but a month is not enough, it has to be a three hundred and sixty five day a year fight. No child should be abused, no child should be tormented because they are different.

No child, no one should suffer because of difference. When we become too focused on autism awareness we lose sight of the fact that most of the  issues affecting autistics are issues for the wider disabled community. Perhaps the time has come to focus more on the wider issues of disability and handle autism specific issues separately. Disability gives us a wider constituency and the possibility of gains for a wider community. Whatever we do, we cannot tolerate a society where a social misfit is bullied into suicide, where a wheelchair user can’t board a bus because the driver won’t open the rear doors, or where a child is forced to sit for hours in a soiled nappy because staff paid to care don’t.

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