Friday, October 7, 2011
Autism and fractured communities
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.