Parents of children with Autism beware of Facebook Forums…… They are fast becoming the places of choice for ‘professionals’ trolling for business.

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Recently, whilst participating in a Facebook forum meant to have been created for parents, by parents, I had the unfortunate experience of engaging with someone whose method of response I found to be nothing short of well-articulated academic bullying.

So what’s so unusual about that you might ask?

Well I guess, in and of itself this person’s style of academic bullying may not be that unusual.

Nor if it were occurring in any other forum, necessarily a big deal.

But in a forum that’s meant to provide a safe place for parents of children with Autism to openly exchange information,  discuss issues  and share opinions, I found  this persons method of response both confronting and out-of-place.

One of the aspects of this person’s response method, which I found  particularly disturbing, was that although I am reasonably intelligent,  this person continually addressed me as if I, as both a parent and a mother, held no intellectual capacity what so ever.

I found this to be a highly unusual response approach. Especially considering that these responses were meant to have been coming from another parent.

I know that I, and many others, regardless of our academic or professional status’, engage in parent forums first and for most as parents.

As such, we speak from our hearts and not as untouchable academics with text-book answers for everything (no matter how out of date those text-books may be).

Which is why I find that on the whole, most parents in these forums  do as I do whenever they are confronted by an issue that they either do not agree with or do not understand.

They withhold criticism and accept that whatever the topic or the opinions expressed, (no matter how much you might disagree with them),  they are still the valid views and experiences of another parent struggling to find peace within whatever given situation they are in.

As such they are treated with respect and dignity.

The responses therefore are usually ones of compassion; sprinkled with suggestions that other parents think might help.

So to come up against a person whose chosen response method was adversarial, showing little to no genuine degree of personal understanding, was somewhat unusual.

Feeling that something wasn’t quite right, I decided to scroll through the forum and read this person’s responses to other posts.

What I found was  that not only did this  person regularly offer the same form of detached academic response over and over again, but that some of the parents within the forum seemed to be looking up to this person and taking their words and opinions, almost  as gospel.

Another thing that struck me as being particularly odd was the fact, that in all of said person’s responses I’d read, they at no time made mention of, or even alluded too,  actually having a child on the autism spectrum.

The most common phrases they used were “parents need to understand that autism isn’t about them” and “parents should put their child first”, “parents need to listen to fact”.

There were no, ‘as parents we need too,’ statements to be found only  the detached and somewhat authoritative ‘parents should’ variety of commandments being issued forth.

This all seemed to sound just a little too strikingly familiar to me, as it smacked of the Doctor/ God complex that I’d  encountered far too many times  over the years.

This piqued my interest  so I decided to check this person’s Facebook profile and guess what I found?

The person concerned is indeed a practicing psychologist and their Facebook page both promotes their clinic services and provides full contact details on how to make appointments with them.

And guess what area of practice they claim to specialize in?

Autism.

Now call me naive, but just when exactly did parent forums become the feeding grounds for professionals trolling for new clients?

No wonder I found this persons remarks and cold academic way of dealing with the legitimate concerns and situations of real parents to be so disturbingly detached.

It’s because they were never responding as a parent, only ever as a professional.

So the next time you find yourself in a forum where something or someone just doesn’t feel right, listen to your gut instincts and check it out.

You may just be as surprised as I was by what you find.

 

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11 thoughts on “Parents of children with Autism beware of Facebook Forums…… They are fast becoming the places of choice for ‘professionals’ trolling for business.

  1. I admin an FB autism support page and if I came across this, I would message the person and warn them. Second offence toss them. To use support pages to drum up business violates the purpose of support. That being said, when someone gets my goat I can also do the academic bullying bit. It’s my way of flipping them off. I’m nasty. ;-)

  2. I admin an autism FB page too and like anautismdad wrote above, I would also warn anyone who tried to promote their business on there!
    And I think we may have perhaps been in the same forums because this academic bullying seems all too familiar, Good on you though. Stand your ground and don’t let anyone talk you down, :)
    Fi

  3. I can most certainly appreciate your warning. I am a parent of an autistic child, and I have a Facebook p age as well as a web site, Twitter and Google+ page geared toward providing resources and information for other families with autistic children. I’m on a trip my page is very carefully to make sure no one is preying on families who are in a vulnerable position. Please know that there are people out here who do truthfully care

  4. Just playing devil’s advocate… well, probably more self-advocate…

    in all of said person’s responses I’d read, they at no time made mention of, or even alluded too, actually having a child on the autism spectrum.

    The most common phrases they used were “parents need to understand that autism isn’t about them” and “parents should put their child first”, “parents need to listen to fact”.

    There were no, ‘as parents we need too,’ statements to be found

    I wouldn’t make sweeping statements like this person did, or not on purpose anyway, but I do come across as a “know-it-all”, making detached and factual statements, diving in with a solution instead of validating feelings first. I don’t like that about myself and am trying to be better, but it is how a lot of people interpret my words. I engage with a lot of parents of autistic children, because I recognise their struggles and joys, and I want to be able to support and help them. But I would also be behaving suspiciously like in this example, never saying “we parents”. Because I’m not a parent. I don’t have children. I’m an autistic adult.

    In this case, your gut instinct was validated because the person turned out to be promoting their own clinic. But the things that set off your gut instinct might as easily be applied to me. So… I know it’s a lot to ask, but please don’t be too quick to judge people who don’t talk about their children. They might still be there because they want to listen and help.

      • Oh absolutely! I have no right to pretend to know anything about parenting, let alone pretend to be one. There is so much I’m learning from speaking to parents. They all have such valuable insights and experiences to offer. It’s wonderful! :)

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