I think it’s safe to say that autism doesn’t have a stellar reputation. Really, all types of neurodiversity have an image problem, but today we’re talking about autism. While things are improving, there are still a lot of
goddamn morons people who see neurodiversity as a disability rather than a difference in the way the brain functions. So much so, in fact, that they go to extreme measures to “prevent” their kids from “getting” it. I’m talking, of course, about fucking anti-vaxxers.
Stupidity Not Science
Let’s get this out of the way right up front: anti-vaxxers aren’t new. Sadly, they’ve been around as long as there have been vaccines. Their ideas have all been extremely stupid and fucked up, each in their own way. But, for my money, there’s one of these fucktisms that stands above all the others. It’s based on a thoroughly debunked and discredited paper written by a man named Andrew Wakefield. Basically, this ball-of-puss-pretending-to-be-a-human managed to slip past peer review and have published a
steaming pile of bullshit scientific paper that posited a non-existent link between vaccines and autism. It was eventually pulled from publication and Wakefield was struck from the UK’s medical roster. But not before former Playboy centerfold Jenny McCarthy heard about and blew that shit up. I don’t want to say she’s partially responsible for today’s anti-vaxx insanity, but she kind of is.
Extremely Dumb and Incredibly Shitty
This shit pisses off people who are autistic, or who care about someone who is autistic, for multiple reasons. But the big one is this: not vaccinating your kids because of this bullshit is the same as saying I’d rather have a dead child than an autistic one. That, my friends, is shitty in the extreme. Not to mention incredibly stupid because autism doesn’t work that way.
That’s Not How This Works. That’s Not How Any of This Works
You can’t “get” autism. It’s not a fucking virus or something, it’s literally the way your brain is wired. We don’t know why, but It’s there from birth. So the idea that vaccines, the first of which are given about two months after birth, can cause it is just fucking stupid. But the idea that some “parents” (I use that term very loosely) would rather take a chance on the small human they brought into the world getting an awful, potentially life-threatening disease rather than have a condition that not only isn’t life-threatening, but can have benefits if approached in the right manner, is infuriating.
Did You Say “Benefits”?
I did and they’re fucking awesome. Did you know that neurodiverse people are extremely creative problem solvers? Maybe because of the way our brains work. Or maybe we just have so much fucking practice. We’re excellent at pattern recognition. That can help us learn things quicker and more easily. Another benefit is having an excellent long-term memory. This one is a little tricky for me, though. Because of my ADHD, I can’t remember an appointment I made 2 days ago if I don’t write it down, enter it in my phone calendar, and get a reminder call the day of. But I can tell you that my family’s phone number in 1968 was 919-292-3562. Which is so useful. Of course, it also means I can recall long strings of information once I get it committed to memory. Which actually is useful. It’s kind of a double-edged sword.
Stop With The Cure Bullshit
Another thing: you can’t “cure” autism. You see this garbage come up now and then. But the thing is, autism isn’t something that can be, or even needs to be cured. It’s called a “disorder” or a “disability” but most of us who are autistic don’t see it that way. In my view, any problems that I have relating to my autism don’t come from my neurodiversity. Living in a society that doesn’t take differences into account? That’s another story . The bottom line is, I’m not looking for a cure because I don’t need to be cured. I would, however, appreciate it very much if people would quit making things harder for me.
Just Fucking Let Me Be
I long for the day when society ends all this fuckery and allows neurodivergent folks to just be. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t think–or sometimes, say out loud–some variation of “Stop trying to fucking fix me and get out of my goddamn way!” To me, it’s not a lot to ask. It does, however, mean that society–and by “society”, I mean “neurotypicals”–would have to acknowledge that neurodiverse folks exist for something other than a way for it work out its “savior” issues. It would be nice if y’all understood that we actually have something to contribute, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.