Mom's post on parenting son with autism goes viral for honesty

PHOTO: Leigh Merryday Porch and her son. PlayLeigh Merryday Porch
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The media tends to celebrate people with autism who are achieving incredible things.

But one mom of a son with autism thinks that for some parents, these stories could be doing more harm than good.

In a Facebook post on her page "Flappiness Is," Leigh Merryday Porch wrote: "If you have an autistic child, you've seen the stories. Friends tend to tag you in them or PM you to share. They're stories of autistic kids who didn't talk but do now, children who sing the national anthem, young women who compete in beauty pageants, and those on the spectrum who graduate from college. And you don't mind the stories, because human beings persevering in the face of adversity is a beautiful thing."

But invariably, she wrote, somewhere in the story is a quote that goes something like this: '"When experts told her her son would never talk, never have friends, never graduate, she declared 'Over my dead body.'"

But Porch goes on to say that there are "no dead bodies required" for your child to be worthy.

"If you have a child whose disability is severe, such quotes are felt like a slap. Because some disabilities cannot be overcome," she wrote. "They can be accepted, worked with, planned for, and accommodated, but no amount of parental love and determination can erase them."

When friends and family tag parents of children with disabilities that can't be overcome in what Porch calls "inspiration porn" posts, it's actually hurtful, she wrote.

"We know they don't mean harm. So, you don't want to order them all to never tag you in a post or forward something to you. But many of those posts feel like a slap. You can't really win with it.," she said.

Responses to her post reflected others who had the same feelings.

"The response from parents was really about that -- finding a way to articulate that you know no harm was intended but you want people to understand that oversimplifying disability leads to thoughtless and hurtful suggestions, comments -- and implications. In the same way getting a pedicure and having my hair highlighted won't allow me to look like Ms. Universe, doing what some other mother did won't make my child grow up to look like hers either," Porch told "GMA." "It has little to do with love and determination and a whole lot more to do with accepting and nurturing the child you've been given."

There is one place, though, the the term "over my dead body" fits for Porch.

"Because - over my dead body - will he be relegated as somehow less worthy for not doing the unexpected and unrealistic," she said. "The presence of an autistic adult in the world who doesn't make the newspaper is not a statement of failure. Not of society, not of his family, and certainly not of himself. And other than steadfastly insisting he be given every reasonable opportunity any other person has to live, learn, and grow, no other declarations need be made - and no dead bodies required."