Child Protection for the Autistic Child - A Resource
Sometimes I have bleak days around our family situation. Everything tastes bitter. The glass is not half full, it is dry. These are the days I tell myself it is OK to weep. I’ve had to rediscover the value of crying as a healthy means of releasing pent-up misery and sadness. I’d experienced the relatively sudden death of a parent and similarly intense life events but realised when our family crisis hit that I had’ent really cried for decades. I’ve since discovered safe places to cry – on the pavement in the dark, in the toilet at work, with supportive people in quiet settings. Someone close to me cries in the car alone when they have bleak days. I’ve learned to shut the windows for fear that neighbours would be frightened and upset by hearing the sounds of my intense and essentially private grief.
There is a well referenced cycle of emotions experienced by the grieving. They include anger and depression - these are not pretty emotions/states that anyone wants to feel. There are different ways to cope with them. The best are creative - writing, performance, visual arts, mixed media including digital media, music. Creative art comes from deep within and expresses something about the human condition that breaks down the boundaries of conventional thinking and seeing. It is truly democratic and can be a catalyst for systemic changeby making people question the 'why of things'. Some people also become activists for change and others go on to give practical help to others in the same situation as a means of coping with their own grief.
I know many parents that have been dealt a bad hand of cards by life cry as a safety valve. There are different types of crying – with tears and without, from the heart, from the stomach, silent, alone and together. I've also cried for happiness when I’ve been given good news about my son.
I believe social workers, healthcare professionals, child protection professionals and police are exposed to the intense grief of others to the point that it is hard not to be affected. Some may go on to develop their own mal-adapted coping mechanisms including becoming hardened to the grief of others. I’ve listened to a horrifying account by a mother who was commanded by her social worker not to cry in front of her young child as she said goodbye to him for the last time before he went on to be forcibly adopted. The same mother also asked 'What must my child think that I could display no emotion? Would he think he is so unlovable that I did'ent feel anything?' Any parent who can find a way of helping their child come to terms with what is happening in these circumstances has passed the ultimate test in self-sacrifice and of parenting capacity as far as I’m concerned. I would question a social worker’s suitability for their own job if they did’ent understand this. I’ve also heard mothers who were sexually abused as children describe how their abuser would beat them if they cried while being abused - many have experienced social workers asking them not to cry in front of their children and even being told that their inability to express the right emotions at the right time to their social worker's satisfaction is a reason why their child has been removed.
Crying is never a sign of weakness and never wrong as a response to grief. Crying helps us cope with overwhelming events that we have no power to change. 'The fix' is beyond us and crying is a physical release for the unbearable emotions we feel. To force people not to cry is inhumane beyond comprehension. Crying can be subversive when those in positions of power are unable to cope with evidence of the impact of their own actions, failings and failures.
Strong, good people understand, accept and are non-judgemental about the grief of others. That is all we are asking for really, that and a bit of compassion. Support would be the icing on the cake.