Saturday, July 19, 2008

A little more ignorance...

I frequent a really awesome forum that was created by the owner of the Fugly Horse of the Day blog, and yes, I'm addicted. But today I saw one post that irked me a bit. I doubt the original poster meant to be offensive, but it still came off as insulting and ignorant to me.

The forum's main theme is "Fugly" horses. A Fugly horse is a horse who was poorly bred, has hideous conformation, and is generally just not the product of an intelligent breeding plan. The poster on this thread had compared "fugly" horses to Autistic people, as well as people with genetic issues that they might pass on. The title was "Can people breed Fugly?"

I saw this in people magazine and thought " if this were horses it would definately make the blog".

Couple has six serverly autistic kids. It is all caused by genetics. Couple had kids taken away from her at one point for not caring for them properly. To top it off, they take them out to restaraunts and complain that they get dirty looks when their kids steal food from other patrons tables and scream relentlessly. As I read the article, I just kept thinking; why have kids you cant care for properly?

What do you guys think? Do the same rules for horse breeding apply to people?

Now, first things first. Just because I have a child with Autism, does not mean child number two will be Autistic. There is research suggesting Autism is genetic, but there is no way to test it yet. Thus, comparing Autism to genetically passable things like HERDA in horses is just silly. We know HERDA can be passed on to a foal. It's a proven fact. Autism reseach has not come to this point yet. There is no known cause of Autism, only theories and what little info we have is all theory most of the time.

For the record, my first child was indeed Autistic. Second, "normal." So I guess I shouldn't have "bred" either, and never given Sierra a chance at life with us, or to enjoy having her? I'm sorry, but if there were some genetic test that you could take during pregnancy to find out if the fetus would be Autistic, I wouldn't care one way or the other. I wouldn't be told "She'll have Autism" and then decide to abort. I'm happy with my 2 kids, and I love them for who they are.

This line gets me, too:

"To top it off, they take them out to restaraunts and complain that they get dirty looks when their kids steal food from other patrons tables and scream relentlessly"

Unless you have an Autistic child, you do not know the hell we parents go through to do everyday things. I can't go grocery shopping without at least one meltdown, head banging on the floor, screaming, throwing things. Resturants are very hard for most Autistic children. It's hard for a "normal" kid to sit quietly and behave, it's near impossible for a kid like Jaymes. Closeminded jerks who will sit there a judge us all because Jaymes is having a hard time in a public place is the reason life is so tough for kids (and their parents!) who have Autism.

One big thing though- Over my dead body would Jaymes ever take food off someone else's plate at a resturant. No friggin way, not acceptable.


dressage_x said...

I saw the post as well, and I was offended by it.

Amber DBTD said...

Well, I'm glad I was not the only one then, I know I tend to be overly sensitive about those kind of things...

dressage_x said...

you know, you have a right to be offended easily. On the board, someone mentions the "crazy OTTB" or "dumb warmblood", ect. and they get jumped on and flamed for that.

but they are allowed to call your (beautiful!) child poorly bred, or "fugly" because he is autistic?

Something is not right here.

Amber DBTD said...

Very true! And for the records, I loves me some crazy OTTBS :p

The thing (I think) with the Fugly Forum, is this: If you go on there and post a pic of your horse, expect to have the horse and the background torn apart, and have at least a few tear into you about something minor. This is to be expected, and no one has a right to get all offended about it.

But one line most people on the forum don't cross is into the realm of insulting people's kids, or making ignorant generalizations about disabled or different people. Racism is absolutely not tolerate there, so why should comments like the Autism one, or (and this I've seen a few times around the board, said by various people) "This is like the special olympics: even if you win you're still a retard".

I do get very fired up about ignorance toward any disability or difference... If racism is attacked ferociously on the board, so should these kind of remarks.

kh said...

I saw that, too, and was offended. I held my tongue because I didn't want to blast into outer space. People on that board are too critical of things in general to the point of unwarranted cruelty; when it comes to trash-talking people's children, I can't handle it anymore.

Here's something I never understand anyway: What good do they think a dirty look is going to *do*? "Oh, well, I was perfectly happy letting my Autistic child have a meltdown, but since someone glared at me because I interrupted their salad, now I'll get them in special programs and behavior mod! Thanks, Cranky Applebee's Patron! You changed my outlook on this!"

igiaa said...

jamyes is like that for a reason.And I think he will go on to be one of the most susseful horsemen in the world with his already nice seat:)

Amber DBTD said...

He does have a good seat ( :

all-canadian said...

I think I understand the gist of the post.

I really hate it when people who KNOW there is a genetic defect in their family continue to "breed". For example, muscular dystrophy. It can be tested for, and it is completely avoidable. We have close family friends who have had it in their family in the past - they get tested, and adopt if they find out that they are carriers.

Like you said, autism doesn't really fit that category... although if you have 6 in a row, there probably is something genetic involved. Maybe it usually isn't much of a factor (one of my aunts has an autistic child and one who is not autistic, clearly it happens often), but for whatever reason it seems to be magnified with that particular couple.

After reading how much time and patience you need in order to deal with just one autistic child, I think it was probably irresponsible of them to have so many children. Regardless of the liklihood of the next child having autism, there comes a point when you have so many children to care for that a new one will result in a reduction in the quality of care that each child receives. By the time you have 3 or 4 autistic children... And like you said, although there are some things you can't avoid, if they weren't overwhelmed by the children they would probably have a little bit more control over their behaviour (or they would have had the time to work on behaviour over a long period of time, so it wouldn't surface as much).

So, to sum it up... I think that the family with 6 autistic children probably should have stopped earlier (to the extent that I can judge from a computer screen). However, I think that the OP phrased it in such a way that it offended some people, although it may be because she was misinformed.

Amber DBTD said...

You're right, and to be honest, I think I'd have a mental breakdown if I had more than 3 kids, Autistic or not. Can you imagine 6 kids?

Erin said...

One of the main purposes of pointing out and ridiculing fugly horses is to prevent the breeding of them, yes, but why?

Because fugly horses are much more at risk for ending up at slaughter, neglected, or abused. THAT is why it is unethical to breed fugly. And THAT is what that girl who made the comparison isn't getting - and proof that she's forgetting why the blog was created. Autistic children do not face the same risk for suffering and inhumane death that horses do.

Often times I find readers at FHOTD lose sight of why they're making fun of these horses/owners as they enjoy themselves ridiculing others so much. It's not supposed to be about who's horse is better. It's supposed to be about breeding/buying/owning horses that are physically and physiologically suited for the disciplines they'll be used for, so they reduce risk of injury to rider and themselves. It's supposed to be about breeding horses that will continue to be marketable, so they don't go to KB or get abused. It is NOT a eugenics argument, and that is what that OP was turning it in to.

People should remember that a fugly horse has as much inherent value and right to life as a world champ with perfect conformation. "Value" is in the eye of the beholder, and is really an arbitrary figure subject to many variables, all made up the humans who attach themselves to these animals. Who can say what's the value (monetary or otherwise) of a child's therapy horse, who might be the world to that child, versus a fancy hunter pony underappreciated by a spoiled, bratty 15 year old girl who's ready to trade up to a fancy 16h warmblood?

Btw, I love your blog, read every word. Mind expanding to say the least. I have a world of admiration for you.

Erin said...


The one thing I must point out is that for a couple to have six autistic kids is a choice that affects them. That couple will (presumably, barring craziness) take care of those kids for their lifetime. Their job as parents, society and parents themselves normally assume, is a lifetime commitment. Is it ethically a good one for that family itself, perhaps in terms of the care and life they'll lead? Maybe, maybe not, but they will be the ones living it and it's their choice to make (as long as no laws are broken).

Fugly horses, however, very often become everyone's problem, and they should be considered any horse person's problem if they become at risk for suffering as a result of human affiliation. I should care that someone else's horse is getting shipped to Mexico right now. I do and think I should feel a responsibility to the well-being of horses in general, since it is because of my and my fellow mankind's desire to live a life that closely involves horses that puts horses in at-risk situations.

If you knew you were likely to have a child with autism and did anyway, that's fine, that's your choice, because it's you that will be responsible for that child. But on the other hand, to make a true comparison to breeding fugly horses, you would have to:
-know you were very likely an autistic child,
-have one anyway,
-SELL it on the (what would have to be) black market (which, incidentally, makes a good analogy because the kid would be at risk for suffering/abuse) or give it away or worse
-and continue to do it again

Riiiight....just shows how different and non analogous these topics are.

Amber DBTD said...

Erin- thank you for the posts, they both put into words my thoughts, which I couldn't get out quite so well as you did.

As for the last post, on the selling your autistic kid on the black market... The way you put it made me laugh. It's SO not a funny thing, but the wording cracked me up.