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August 15, 2011

I’m thrilled to present you with one of my favorite writers, Lorca Damon. She’s smart, funny, and we cannot get through a conversation without laughing our asses off. That’s always a good sign for a guest post, right? 

Well, when I learned more about Lorca’s real life, I found myself even more astounded by her amazing sense of humor. I hope you can see why, too. 


Almost eight years ago, we learned that our second child is profoundly autistic. Not “a little bit autistic” or “somewhere on the spectrum,” she’s completely autistic. The barely-able-to-talk kind. Once we heard those words from a doctor whom we trusted, I did what every good parent does. I cried. A lot. Then I wiped my nose and began scavenging every tidbit I could off the internet.
Did you know there are some seriously f*cked-in-the-head people on the internet? No, I’m not just talking about the weirdos who have a baby fetish, people who seriously get aroused by wearing bibs and sucking pacifiers and pooping in adult diapers just so that someone they paid (hopefully A LOT of money) will change it for them, although those people are pretty high on the list, too. No, once I started to really research autism, I learned there are some crazy ideas floating around about what causes it, what cures it, and worst of all, what it can do to a family.

The one single piece of information that I squeaked out of hours and hours online that shaped who I am as a parent was horrifying: while nearly fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, in families with a special needs child that statistic jumps to eighty percent. It took me a second to catch my breath, but when I did I made a Scarlet O’Hara-quality As-God-As-My-Witness vow that autism would never be allowed to destroy my family.

And the only way to hold the pieces together in the ugliest of times is to laugh like you’re high on the good stuff.
We might be the only people on the planet who think our child is freakin’ hilarious but we feel that way because she is. Whether she means to be or not, she’s funny. She says funny shit. She does funny things. She makes funny faces. She can tell knock-knock jokes for hours at a time. Sometimes she’s in on the joke, and sometimes she is the joke.
Shut up with your indignation, the fact of the matter is we’d be laughing at her if she was normal. So is she less funny and quirky and cute-as-a-button because she’s autistic? Way to discriminate, asshat. My daughter’s aide at school tells me every year that her back-to-school shopping involves Depends, just in case she pees herself laughing at some of the stuff my daughter says. See? Other people think my daughter is funny, too (or this woman’s covering up the fact that she’s in on that adult diaper fetish I mentioned above…ewww).

My daughter is deathly afraid of shrubbery. I don’t mean, “Oh, I don’t like those plants,” I mean screaming hysteria if she gets too close to vegetation, the kind of screaming where the cops are usually called by concerned neighbors and car alarms up and down the street start blaring. So do I play the autism card and rip all the shrubs out of the front of our house? Hell no, I paid a butt load of money to have those shrubs put there and quite frankly, the shrubs were there first.

Instead I teach her to get over it by chasing her through the house with a handful of leaves. At first the game used to really upset her, but now she thinks it’s fun. Yeah, I’m the mom who literally gets my daily 30 minutes of cardio by grabbing a twig and running through the house yelling, “Poke! Poke! Poke!” at a developmentally handicapped child.

The other thing the internet taught me was that there are a lot of parents of autistic kids who think the world owes them something because of this diagnosis. They want movie theaters to have to turn the volume down for their child’s oversensitive hearing while the rest of us are trying to enjoy a movie that we paid $12 per person to go see. I swear to you there is even a movement out there to change the spelling of autism to “AWEtism.”

Newsflash, badgerhole, there’s not a lot about autism that is awesome. While I am the first to tell you that my CHILD is awesome, autism as a whole hasn’t done a hell of a lot for my family. When you quit wasting time telling everyone that your child is just like Mozart (yeah, there’s a chunk of the autism community that has decided quite a few historical famous people were autistic, without any way of proving that whatsoever), you’ll have more time to try to teach him to talk. And potty train. And eat more than three foods for the rest of his life.

In the meantime, I have a profoundly autistic child who will probably never leave home. She’ll never go on a date, and having kids of her own is off the table. I know that when I’m eighty years old, I will be dragging her fifty-year-old butt through the grocery store and she’ll probably be crying because she doesn’t want to be there. And every once in a while when we have a bad day, I worry about the future when I’m too old to take care of her and I’m faced with either putting her in an institution or putting us both in the car in the garage and turning the motor on. But those days don’t happen to me very often because I’m gonna laugh my way through this.

Lorca Damon is a writer and teacher in a correctional facility. She’s also(obviously) the mother of an autistic child, so she sort of knows what she’s talking about. Her book, Autism By Hand, is available on Kindle and Nook and it won’t take you very long to it. You should absolutely follow her on Twitter @LorcaDamon.
  1. Lorca Damon permalink

    Thanks for the opportunity to hang around your Snark Monument! I feel like I'm sitting at the cool kids' table in the cafeteria!

  2. Lorca, so great to learn more about you. From this short piece, my admiration meter for you has gone up 1000 points – not because you have an autistic child, but because of how you deal with it.

    We can only play the hand we're dealt in life, and sometimes it's fucking unfair.  I have friends and relatives with autistic children, and my hats go off to them daily for what they endure.  

    I'll be buying a copy of your book and sending them your link as well. Humor in life is not limited to those who have “no problems.” If anything, the people who need and deserve it most are those who work through incredible hardships on a daily basis.

    Bravo, lady, for your wisdom and your humor. 


  3. Lorca Damon permalink

    Thank you so much! That really does mean a lot to me. I think it's tempting to feel, “What right do I have to be joyful?” in dark times. Instead, I choose to think, “How can I not?”

  4. This is such a treat having Lorca on my blog. The tweet conversations have been amazing as well. So many people have stepped up to share their own stories. Thanks for visiting everyone! xo

  5. Michele Shaw permalink

    What a great post and just a taste of true writing talent. Lorca, you are obviously a gem or a writer, wife, and mother. Never stop sharing. The world needs to hear what you have to say. Continued success!

  6. Lorca, thanks for a great post and Rachel thanks for having Lorca post here. I have a good friend with three autistic boys. She also has a great sense of humor about dealing with the kids. It is how she copes. As a mental health professional I think you have a great attitude about dealing with your daughter's condition and wish you well as the years pass by. I think you will be okay as you continue this journey. 

    Deep Peace,


  7. Awesome book and even more awesome woman. I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with Lorca's daughter. Everyone should read Autism by Hand.

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