MILWAUKEE — — “I am very, very proud to be a feminist,” said MILWAUEE — “I am proud to have the courage to say that I am a woman,” said the mother of a 16-year-old autistic girl.
“We must be strong for our future, for our children and for ourselves,” she said in a rare public appearance this week, in front of a small crowd gathered at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
The girl, who is currently in a foster home, spoke about the impact of autism on her family and about her mother’s diagnosis.
MILWAUKEGUDA — In the last week, I have been diagnosed with autism.
I am scared every day, she said.
We are fighting with our own minds, she added.
In her first public statement since her diagnosis, the girl, identified only as Maria, said that she is proud to share her story, saying that she has never felt “more like a woman than when I speak out for others, especially for people who are suffering.”
“When I talk about autism, I mean for myself, for my daughter, for other people who might be like me, and for my family,” she told the crowd of about 50.
She said she does not believe that her diagnosis will have a negative impact on her life.
Maria has been in a residential home for about two years, the last two months of which she has been living in a mental health facility.
Her mother, Mariah Carey, spoke for her about the stigma associated with autism and what she has learned through the struggle.
When you are born with autism, you are labeled a criminal, a monster, a fraud, she explained.
And I do believe that the stigma that exists around autism is so bad, and so harmful, that we have to be stronger than that.
If we want to get this right, we have got to be able to see that people are people, she told a packed room.
While Carey said she is optimistic about the future for her daughter, she also emphasized the need for parents to be more accepting.
What we are trying to do right now is help her understand that she’s not alone, that she can be loved and respected.
For us to do this, we need to listen to our parents, she continued.
As a mother, she emphasized that she hopes to raise Maria as an autistic person, as opposed to the child who suffers from autism spectrum disorder.
There is no cure for autism, Carey said.