By Erin K. Costello
Recently I have covered the anti-vaccine vitriol against those of us who advocate for vaccines, or against the Jewish community, against the medical community, and even aimed at those in government, but there is one more group of people who are more often victimized by anti-vaccine hate and discrimination than any other group of people, and that is autistic people. A post I came across from the Facebook page Future Horizons demonstrates their hate horrifically well.
Many anti-vaccination advocates hate autism much like other parents hate cancer or SIDS. Having a child with autism is often viewed as a fate worse than death by many of these parents. In fact, one mother even murdered her autistic child believing she had no other choice but to put the child, and presumably herself, out of some type of misery. This child, Alex Spourdalakis, was not the only autistic person murdered by their parents or caregivers. I am not without compassion or empathy for how difficult their lives may be, but, fuck these parents.
Before I darken your mind with this anti-vaccine abuse and antipathy against autism and those with autism, I’d like to share some data and mention a few facts for you to keep in mind about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
- Autism is defined as unusual development in: social skills, communication skills, and physical and expressive behaviors and interests
- Autism affects 1 in 59 children
- Boys are four times more likely be diagnosed with autism than girls. However, that ratio is changing as the way autistic girls present is better understood
- Parents who have a child with ASD have a 2% - 18% chance of having a second child who is also affected.
- ASD tends to occur more often in people who have certain genetic or chromosomal conditions. About 10% of autistic children also have conditions such as Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, or other genetic and chromosomal differences.
- Almost half (44%) of children identified with ASD have average to above average intellectual ability.
- ASD commonly co-occurs with other developmental, psychiatric, neurological, chromosomal, and genetic diagnoses. The co-occurrences of one or more non-ASD developmental diagnoses is 83%. The co-occurrence of one or more psychiatric diagnoses is 10%. These co-occurring conditions are called “co-morbidities”. One such co-morbidity is intellectual disability, or ID. ID is not included in the diagnostic criteria for autism.
- The presence, and intensity, of these co-occurring conditions determines the level of support an autistic person needs in life.
- Some autistic people have extreme difficulty using oral language, which is sometimes called “being non-verbal”, but it is more accurate to say, “non-speaking”. This is independent of intellectual disability. There are non-speaking people who have graduated from college.
- An autistic person’s support needs can fluctuate over time, and even day-to-day.
- It is estimated that of those with autism, about 49-55% have generally low support needs, about 30-37% need a moderate amount of support to function, and about 10-16% have high support needs (require 1:1 support).
- Autism is referred to as a developmental delay. Just like non-autistic people, autistic people continue to grow and change over the course of their lives.
Anti-vaccine activists, like shown in the screen shots below, often define or describe autistic people as non-speaking, requiring a diaper, and frequently engaging in such distressing behaviors as self-injury and smearing shit on the walls. This describes a person with high support needs whose needs are not being met, and may have more than one co-morbid condition. The overwhelming majority of autistic people require minimal or moderate support.
Autism is not curable, but there are ever-expanding ways to mitigate the aspects of autism that are challenging.
Having autism is just another way that makes a child truly unique. I have raised three children and discovered I had to approach parenting each child differently for reasons like ADHD, personality traits, health concerns, age, even gender. Raising a child with autism would also require a unique approach and this would all depend on the individual. I have no doubt it would be challenging at times, especially for someone with no experience with autism. But, parenting IS challenging, regardless of what issues you face. Why is raising a child with autism treated with such hate and hostility, as shown in these comments, instead of faced in much the same way as raising a child with ADHD? Also, why is it that when anti-vaccine advocates hear autism they only image they portray is someone with high support needs? In doing this they are excluding and dismissing up to 90% of those with autism.
What's The Harm?