Dear Ms. Braxton,
I have recently read an article about the release of your new book “Unbreak My Heart” where you talk about your strict religious upbringing as well as your son’s autism.
The article states the following “Toni Braxton said she believes God’s payback for her previous abortion was to give her son autism. In the singer’s new book she opens up about an abortion she had before in 2001 before she was married. Braxton said the abortion has haunted her through the years and caused her to wonder if her second son’s autism diagnosis was her punishment for the procedure. More than anything, Toni says, she is ashamed of herself for going through with the procedure.”
I have to say that I was extremely shocked and disappointed with your comments and your choice of words.
I fundamentally believe that every human being regardless if they have special needs or not, deserves respect, with the preservation of their rights equally respected.
I’m twisting these words around in my mind “autism, punishment from God” and I cannot in any form see how this is not hurtful and so disrespectful towards your son.
You simply cannot make such impertinent comments regarding autism without directly and indirectly hurting the autistic individual. Autism cannot be divided from the person. When someone says that autism is a burden, they are in essence saying that the autistic person is a burden as well because they have autism. When one says that autism “sucks”, then the autistic person “sucks” as well because we cannot remove the autism from the person.
If we are to advocate for autistic people, as you advocate for your son, then we must be consciously aware of the words we choose when speaking because too often these words are hurting, discriminating and disrespecting the very same people we claim to be advocating for.
Your son will one day read these words that you have published for the world to see and he will view and understand that your definition for his presence here on earth as a punishment towards you rather than a gift.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, autistic people were not born out of God’s wrath nor were they born out of punishment for past sins and indiscretions. We all have a purpose here on earth, as does your son. His autism has nothing to do with it. A life is a life, period.
Autism isn’t easy, I know. I have two autistic sons aged 18 and 14 but one thing is certain; they are a far cry from being a punishment in my life.
As parents it is our responsibility to ensure our children have a solid foundation on which to build on. They require and deserve a proper education, modified to fit their abilities and strengths. They also need confidence, love and nurturing in all that they do. They must grow up with the knowledge that everything they do has meaning, value and a purpose here on earth and that not one person is more valuable than another.
And this is the most important part; they must always believe in their heart and in their soul that their autism doesn’t make them unworthy; that different does not equate to less-than.
Ms. Braxton, you are a public figure that attracts many loyal fans and media attention. I wish you would have been more positive in your message regarding your son’s autism, regardless of what you may have gone through in the past. Your message could have been an inspirational turning point for many families struggling with autism.
Your words were offensive to my children and to all autistic people and their families. But above all, and THE MOST IMPORTANT, is that your words will forever be hurtful to your son.
About Linda Mastroianni
Linda Mastroianni is founder of Speaking Autism Canada, an autism advocate, and a stay at home mom with two boys. Her younger son, Emilio, is on the Autistic Spectrum. Linda on Facebook and twitter Linda says she created her blog with the intention of helping and enriching the lives of Montreal families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The original post from her blog is here
Opinions expressed by Autism Daily Newscast Contributors are their own.