It’s a hard thing to work out. It’s perplexing. I have to confess I can’t really fathom how it has occurred. It’s a case of what I believe is an injustice. It really is, I think. I scroll through my newsfeed and I see many different things, some are cute, some are funny, some are sad, some are joyous and some are downright anger inducing and disgusting.
One thing that is bound to enrage me is the conspiracy theories about vaccines and autism. It’s perplexing to me that this is still being sprouted. We have celebrities claiming it, we have hopeful politicians claiming it, we have the descendants of US Presidents claiming it. Yet, in all honesty, it must be one of the most studied and most debunked claims of modern science. For example here’s a list of a hundred odd studies that do so.
This all started, or, at least, became a public thing in the work of Andrew Wakefield. If you know nothing about him I wrote a little piece about him last year. A flawed study. A fraudulent study. A retracted study. A study that resulted in the good doctor losing his medical license.
But still the illogical claims continue. Parents make memes with ludicrous claims about how their child got “the autisms” immediately after they had an injection. I call bullshit to this. I really do. What we know about autism is that the origins are almost assuredly genetic, they are not an issue of parasites, they are not an issue of pathogens, they are not due to vaccination.
Here is an infographic that shows some history of this whole issue. It shows where Wakefield made his assertions and then it shows all the work gone into discovering the truth. The truth that there is not in any way a connection between autism and vaccines.
None. Zilch. Nada. Zero.
Yet it is a claim that we here from presidential candidates. Pontificate on by former playboy stars around the talk shows circuit.
The question is why.
Let me be clear, though. I am not pretending that vaccines can’t cause a bad reaction. Even a fatal reaction. The reality of the vaccine injury court is a testament to this fact.
But. The court exists to make rulings about real vaccine damage. That vaccine damage is never autism.
From my reading on this, it seems to be that this damage is largely an encephalitis reaction. Encephalitis is not autism. No matter how you spin it it just isn’t.
The truth is that of the millions of vaccinations given the adverse reactions are almost negligible. That’s not to say that they are to be ignored. It is not to say they are ignorable.
And they aren’t ignored. That’s why there is a vaccine court. That’s why there is a medical exemption criterion.
What we have seen since vaccines were introduced en masse is near eradication of diseases like smallpox, measles, whooping cough and others.
Also, what we are currently seeing due to the fear mongering of the anti-vaccination brigade are outbreaks of measles and other of these diseases.
Because apparently having a different neurotype is a far worse consequence than death.
Because parents are more afraid of autism than of their children dying.
I think it’s safe to say that Houston we have a problem!
Let’s be clear. Being autistic has its challenges. It does, there is no sugar coating that question. There are sensory issues, communication issues and socialisation issues amongst other things.
But, these are not life threatening issues. They are challenges to be worked with.
And a word to all you who are not neurodivergent. to you allistic and neurotypical people, it is just as hard for us autistics to deal with you as it is for you to deal with us.
Perhaps more so.
More so not because at an individual level it is tougher, but because you guys are the majority, we deal with you en masse, every day, every week every year. That’s our reality of making our way in the world.
But it’s not a competition. Just an observation.
Many of us who are autistic adults, due to the simple history of understanding about autism have lived largely undiagnosed lives. We have had histories where we were bullied, silenced, ignored and made to feel wrong, broken and in a sense aliens in the world we walked.
In large part, this was done to us by others. But, speaking for myself, in just as large part this was done to us by ourselves.
Some of us have spent lifetimes trying to fake it till we made it. And for most of us, that made it bit just never happened. The actual making it remained elusive. Faking it till we made it just wasn’t good enough to cut it as a neurodivergent person in a neurotypical dominated world.
Some of us did grow up with a diagnosis. And for many autistics in this situation, this meant a lifetime of therapy to change them. To make them indistinguishable from their peers. To appear for all intents and purposes not autistic. Many autistics who underwent this developed significant mental health issues including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
It really is perplexing. The most cogent question I have to ask is what’s so scary, what’s so terrible and what’s so inherently bad that being autistic can be considered worse than death. I am utterly perplexed by this.
A whole industry of therapy exists to cure us of our autism. Millions of dollars are spent worldwide in search of definitive answers to the cause and development of a cure.
But the elephant in the room here. Yes, there is an elephant in the room and that elephant is that none of the people who are conducting all this have actually found out from autistics what it’s like to be autistic if autistics want to be changed and if autistics would even take a cure if it was available.
It’s the parents and the professionals who seem to be controlling the agenda. Controlling a narrative that says autism is bad, devastating and to be eradicated. At times, the message is even autism is aggression, violence and terror.
As an adult autistic with autistic children, I for one am really over reading about the latest so-called miracle cure or treatment for the autismohoribilis. I am certainly sick and tired of reading about the latest school or day care centre to lock up, isolate and cage an autistic child. I am sick of reading about teachers who deliberately torment and effectively torture autistic children. Yes, I am over it. I am sick of it.
I blame the narrative. I blame the rhetoric. I blame the big organisations. I blame the media that give column space and airtime to all the negative stories.
Science has learned a lot about autism. Here’s a video from a great ted talk from a geneticist. It’s worth watching.
I hazard a guess, though. We could no a lot more about the realities of autism. If we as a society listened to the autistics. If we asked what is it like to live as an autism. How does it feel to be in a room with multiple conversations going? Why is it that you like to flap or why do you like to rock.
The age of Autism Speaks needs to end and the new age of Autistics Speak needs to arise.