Abby's Neurodiversity Blog

Saturday, July 01, 2006

On monday, All Things Considered on National Public Radio did a piece on Autism. "Autism movement Seeks Acceptance, Not Cures". It can be listened to here:

This show made some very good points. One of which was the arbitrary nature of labels like "High Functioning" and "Low Functioning". It is arrogant that some proclaim themselves high functioning and deem others low functioning, and generally based on things as trivial as when/if a person develops spoken language, or how a person communicates.

I'm very glad that this side of the story is finally getting recognized. The side of the story that says that we like the way we think, we don't need to be cured, and what we need is acceptance.

In other news, unfortunately, the other side of the story has been getting more coverage as well. The side of the story that basically propagates the belief that autism is worse than death. I'm sure most have already heard about how Autism Speaks recently made a video they called "Autism Every Day".

I watched it, and it litterally made me feel ill. A mother of an autistic girl talked about how she would have killed herself and her autistic daughter if not for the fact that she also had a non-autistic daughter. She said this right in front of her autistic daughter. While holding her daughter on her lap.

"Autism Speaks"(which is a gross misnomer as the group is lead by non-autistics speaking on our behalf, as fervent supporters of a "cure"), has also recently made a television commercial.

What is this commercial about? It shows a little girl dancing around, singing twinkle twinkle little star. Then it says that a child's chance of being in a broadway show is 1 in 10,000 but their change of getting diagnosed with Autism is 1 in 166.

And went on about how that makes finding a cure important.

I was sitting there watching, thinking "OK, so we're more likely to be autistic than on broadway...and?" There are a lot of things people are a lot more likely to do than go on broadway. I don't know if the little girl singing was supposed to be autistic or not, or what having autism has to do with being on a broadway show, but it was a stupid commmerical.

For one thing, what's so terrible about getting diagnosed? 100 years ago, they wouldn't have gotten diagnosed with autism. But not because they didn't have it, just because doctors weren't so obsessed with parcing out people's individual differences and diagnosing them as diseases back then.

Autism Speaks preys on people's fears, because as soon as somone hears something like "diagnosis", they panic.

Once, when I was little, my mom was at a group for parens of kids with learning disabilities, and one woman, who's little girl had just gotten diagnosed, was crying, and carrying on about it. My mom told the woman "It's just a label. She's the same little girl she was last week." This realization alone greatly consoled the woman.

Basically, Autism Speaks just needs to shut up, and stop spreading mass panic.

A good point made on the show by Jim Sinclair was this:
"What the rest of the world needs to know about autism is that it's not something that can be separated out from the person, it's part of the person,' explains Sinclair. 'And so you cannot meaningfully say I love my child but I hate the autism. "


Blogger Lisa Jean Collins said...

Hi there,

I just posted this on my group Autieparents and then started searching around the internet to see if anyone else was commenting on the commercial, or if anyone else had even noticed it. You were the only one I found so far who spoke out against it. Here was my post:

Has anyone seen the new commercial yet?

If I'm remembering correctly, it goes like this:

The slightly shakey camera (made to look like a home movie) pans in
on a little girl, about 3 years old, wearing a pink tutu over her
jeans and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for her adoring father
(I guess Mom is supposed to be behind the camera).

Voice over:

Odds of a child becoming a broadway star 1 in 11,000.

Odds of a child being diagnosed with autism 1 in 166.

Then something else was said and then "It's time to listen."


First I started thinking, what the &^$#%# does "becoming a broadway
star" have to do with "being diagnosed with autism"? If they want to
play that game, then fine. I started thinking about some other odds,
and I wish I knew what they were, but I'll bet some are definitely
higher than 1 in 166:

Odds of your child growing up to hate you and never speak to you

Odds of your child becoming addicted to drugs (odds of raising a
child in Georgia and that child becoming hooked on Meth--those
numbers are staggering, but I can't pull them out of my butt right

Odds of your child flunking out of college and joining the Marines
during a war.

Odds of your child being diagnosed with a fatal illness (or odds of
your outliving your child and having to bury your own child).

Odds of your child being molested, raped, or killed by a pedophile
(not excluding family members and friends).


The analogy that Autism Speaks uses is so unbelievably twisted.
First, the girl *wants* to be a star but her chances are allegedly 1
in 11,000. The other statistic is backwards. Parents, they
understand, *don't want* autistic children, but their chances of
getting one is allegedly 1 in 166. If the other 165 children are not
autistic, then the chances of having a nonautistic child are still
much higher than the chances of being a broadway star.

Children are not discouraged from wanting to be stars (sports,
movies, broadway, music) despite how hard it is, but this is making
parents fearful of producing autistic children, in my opinion. I
can't see how this campaigning can lead to anything else ultimately
than genetic screening for autism, and parents electively aborting
their autistic children.

...All the while forgetting the crushing heartbreak that can come
from raising ANY child!!!

9:11 AM  

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