Comparing Mentally Disabled to Prison

Comparing Mentally Disabled to Prison

Maybe I am too sensitive.  Maybe I take offense to things too easily.  Maybe I am not.  Maybe I should have stood up and said something.  I didn’t.  I was shocked, and angered.  I simply stood up and walked out.  Maybe you would have said something.  Maybe what was said wouldn’t have bothered you.  After you read this, let me know.

Last week, I attended a parent meeting at the church.  It was about the upcoming year’s faith formation classes for the kids.  We have a new person in charge of faith formation.  I don’t know her.  I don’t know if she is even aware that there are several parents that have autistic children in the congregation.  What I do know is that I did not like her comparing mentally disabled individuals with being in prison.

She started the meeting with a reading from the bible.  When she finished, she started explaining the reading by making comparisons to her life.  She then proceeded to make general comparisons of the different things in the reading.  When she started making comparisons to visiting someone in prison with parents of a baby or a teenager, I felt that she was reaching.

Then she made the comparison of a mentally disabled person with prison.  She said that they were locked up in their own world like a prisoner is in prison.  That struck the wrong chord with me.  How could someone make such a general comparison?  It seemed to be a really big reach, and it angered me.  By saying that, I felt that she was saying that my son was living in a prison.  That he was a prisoner to autism.  I have heard a lot of comparisons to autism and mental disabilities, but this is the first time I have heard someone compare them to prison.

I feel, and you might disagree, that she should not have done this.  My child has a hard enough time fitting in among NT individuals, without the leader of faith formation giving the congregation the idea that mentally disabled individuals lived a life similar to being in prison.  How can an educated person make such a comparison?  I just can’t seem to wrap my head around it.

Am I being too sensitive?  Should I have let it go in one ear and out the other?  In a way, I did.  I didn’t stand up and say anything.  I simply walked out.  Honestly, I wish I had stood up and spoke my mind.  I was just overwhelmed with anger and disbelief.  The only thing I could do at the time was walk out.  Now, I’m wondering if I should have not let her words bother me.  I don’t know.  All I know is that I am still angered by her words.  I’m still in disbelief, and it’s been a week since it happened.  How do you feel about this?  How would you have reacted?

1 comment to Comparing Mentally Disabled to Prison

  • Haleigh

    I don’t think you were wrong for feeling that way. For one to assume that autism is anything like prison is ridiculous. Autistic children are beautiful gifts to earth and throwing assumptions like this to parents of these kids is absurd. I am sorry you had to sit and listen to such rubbish.

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