Autism and It’s Fractured Community
On every autism group website I have visited I see a claim of community. We claim to be a community coming together or already there. The truth is, autism is the one medical condition that has more dissension and diversity amongst the members of it’s community above any other. Allow me to explain that.
Anti-vaxxers, curebies, ND’s(Neurodiversity), SA’s (Self Advocacy), and even “Autism traitors” are labels we pass out indiscriminately amongst ourselves. At the same time, we adamantly shout not to label us. Along with those labels are heaping helpings of hatred and insults. One side or group is constantly bashing away at another for some perceived insult to their very existence. For one “group” that I haven’t seen a label for, may as well give them one and call them “Parent Haters” or PH’s. This group is more adversarial towards parents of autistic children with accusations that they are only trying to “cure” their children for their own selfish needs (and destroy who those children really are in the process). Then there’s hatred to NT’s (neuro-typical people) that is just as bad. With all this internal segregation, let me ask you something;
How can we expect to ever be taken seriously? I have searched other medical conditions for this phenomenon. I searched bipolar disorder and multiple sclerosis, for example. I searched cancer and physical disabilities too. Autism is the only medical condition that acts more like some kind of deranged politics mixed with religious standings. It’s putting people at each others throats. Believe it or not, I actually have a theory or two as to why this is happening.
It really comes down to two things:
1) The fact that autism affects each person and family differently.
2) The inherent social blindness of autistic conditions.
For example, here is a quote from a PH: “I don’t need a cure or treatment, so why should anyone else?”
It’s well documented that people with these disorders (and this is why it’s seen as a disorder) miss how other people are affected by various issues (including autism). There is a natural tendency to expect sameness in a personal view within everyone else. It’s like we forget that, just because we see the world in a certain way, we aren’t like everyone else. We forget that everyone sees things in their own way. This is especially destructive in autism as I listed above.
Autistics who don’t believe they need treatment or cure, automatically assume that no autistic needs treatment or “cure”. And I say “cure” very loosely because there isn’t one. The same can be said for those who dislike diversity or advocacy. They lose sight of the fact that everyone is different and has different needs. Not everyone has the same intensity of those needs either.
Another example is the eruption of internet flame wars where the slightest difference in base opinion becomes an accusation of being the Anti-Christ and gets accused of criminal bullying on all sides. This erupts in waves of inappropriate behavior to include creating “blacklists”, negative blogs, and even direct angry emails. And while all sides shout “bullying”, none of them stop. Yes, I realize flame wars are part of any internet meme and I’ve seen them. I just hadn’t ever seen them at this degree before. It’s about as volatile as high scale nitro glycerin, and most of the opinions aren’t even meant to be insulting, or could just be ignored.
A lot of the internet wars happen because of high sensitivities in all parties. Those same sensitivities are very common in autism.
We need to stop and remember that there is more than one way to be affected by autism. The more we persecute parents over their children (none of anyone’s business by the way), people over advocacy, diversity, or wanting disability rights, the worse we all look as a result. None of these beliefs are facist, racist, traitorous, or out to destroy us all. None of them are criminal or wrong.
Someone wants a cure? Let them. No one can force it on you. No one can make you get an abortion either.
Someone wants help for their child? Let them, it’s none of your business. And if you are a parent, try worrying about your own kids.
Someone says “neuro-diversity”? Let them. It actually has helped some people and that’s a good thing. You don’t want it, you don’t have to have it or subscribe to it.
We need to stop assuming we know what everyone else should have or do. You know how we hate words like “retarded”? How about “crazy”? Well, I have talked to people who have seen all the behaviors above and they can’t see is as anything but “immature” and “crazy” too.
If you want to represent something, make it something helpful, not hateful.
9 thoughts on “Autism and It’s Fractured Community”
@autismreads – Don’t get mad bro, just a typo 🙂
@[email protected] – “I never read autisim posts.” The word is autism, not autisim.
Your comment is very apropos because the whole post is about tolerance. We all make mistakes.We can try to help each other and learn from each other or we can get exasperated and swear at each other.
It would be hard to say “Lets stop autistism” without recognizing it is like a force of nature. Then again some folks believe that autism is from environmental poisons which seems to correlate to rising pollution.
Still we have to avoid petty arguments and recognize that there is a possibility that a tip here and there can be useful. Going through a mountain of information to grasp a pearl of wisdom is priceless.
I am not affected by the issue of autism and yeah I wish you guys well.
I never read autisim posts. I just came by to say:
Autism and ITS* Fractured Community
Parents love identifying themselves as part of a group or rather that is the nature of most humans, but they don’t want to be in groups where their belief system isn’t supported. That’s perhaps something autism has going for it– there’s less need of clique-like behaviors to feel secure and less fear of speaking the truth as they see it. I think the parents ought to take a cue from kids and adults with autism.
I personally never thought about ‘curing’ my son, but that may be because he wasn’t diagnosed until he was 8. I always knew he was different and he sensed it too, because he gravitated towards other special needs kids. I knew he could relate to them, I just didn’t have an answer for why. Getting that answer set me on a path to help him make sense of the very odd socially constructed world we live in. A world that doesn’t always make sense to me… Actually, I’m not really sure NT’s way of doing things is correct, it’s just what I am accustomed to and what my son will have to learn to cope with in order to have a happy life. Curing him never crossed my mind and maybe because I wanted him to feel comfortable in his own skin and Mommy saying he needed to be cured felt like I was saying he was as defective as he thought he was. That is based on our experience…
In our world, we focus too much on being right and not on doing what works for us. We don’t live and let live. We don’t say “I respect that you’re family needs something different than mine. I know that you’ve had great success with this, but when I tried it the outcome was different, so I did this instead.” We say “How on earth could that be working for you and yours if didn’t work for me and mine? Don’t you know this is right and that is wrong, you big dumb parent. How dare you be… DIFFERENT!”.
When we play into the right and wrong, black and white concept of autism, we set ourselves and our children up to fail. If I run into someone who feels differently from me, I appreciate their experiences. If I disagree, I tell them nicely. If they get ugly, I move on. I don’t get how people have all this time to argue about autism if they have autistic kids. Where on earth do they get the time from and maybe they can lend me some? I’m too busy to focus on infighting. I’m not reading and discussing to make friends, I’m doing it to be a better parent. My energy is precious… I’d rather take a nap than argue with a stranger.
To the article author: Actually, a lot of the same arguments face the bipolar community. Some people think that they don’t need medicine to treat their condition because bipolar is just “how they are.” Some people disagree with the origins – biochemical or psychological – and there is a HUGE debate over age-of-onset and whether or not childhood bipolar disorder is a legitimate thing. Of course, there are always the people (typically without the disorder) who claim that the whole this is just made up by selfish, lazy, “crazy” people.
I think lots of disorders have similar disputes, like the person two above me on the GLBT+ community pointed out. So, at least autism isn’t alone in this! The three things mentioned probably aren’t “taken seriously” because it is fairly new that it is okay or recognized to actually come out and talk about them. Obviously the gay community and bipolar disorder as manic-depressive illness have been around for forever, but we only recently began allowing for an open dialogue. So things are still being discovered and sorted out, same as autism.
(Just wanted to show I actually read this and didn’t just correct the grammar…which – shame on the editors – is a very elementary and glaring error…same is if they said, “You’re name is Bob.” Eugh!)
To the editors: *Its
It’s is a contraction which means “it is.”
It is a fundamental human flaw, we are way to quick to judge others
based on our own experiences and unwilling to accept that ours is not
the only way. Live and let live I say, if you keep your mind open to the
ways of others you just might learn something. We should be doing our
best to support each other on our own unique journeys, whatever form
they may take. Good post, couldn’t agree more 🙂
You know, this reminds me of the LGBTTI community. The in-fighting is just as bad.
Together we stand, united we fall.