I am Autistic and I vote.
Let's go over this carefully, because it just happened again.
Autistic people are real people who are have to fight every day to make a place for ourselves in a world which is often hostile. Using "autism" as a insult shows a lack of empathy for us. People with real, actual empathy do not turn the word for a disenfranchised group into an insult to attack what they see as a lack of empathy in a political opponent.
This is one of the problems with awareness for awareness sake.
We get turned into an insult, like Paul Wallis does today in a piece which asks "Is American Conservatism a Form of Autism?"
Autism is described as a medical condition whereby people are self-centred, uncommunicative and at a remove from their social environment. There are many different types of autism and degrees of it. A type of “social autism” is also quite possible.
Autism ticks all the boxes for behaviour in relation to social issues by conservatives. It seems that there is no society except the one they choose to acknowledge. This is “social autism”, and it comes in many forms...
Can this possibly be considered anything but an autistic viewpoint? Even the lying is based on the same mentality as a 2 year old who thinks they can get away with anything. Apparently anything which doesn’t directly benefit or relate to oneself isn’t on the conservative radar. That’s autism, incarnate. There’s 312 million people in America, and evidently most of them are just nuisances according to this mindset.
Wallis is not a major figure, but current Democratic Maine Senate candidate Cynthia Dill has done the same thing.
This is bigotry against autistic people, and it also comes in many forms. And from both sides of the political divide.
People have said Barack Obama must have Aspergers, too.
And conservatives have said that striking teachers must have autism.
And every time we are used to score cheap political points, the likelihood that we will be treated decently decreases.
While some on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum blog about how their condition is just a form of eccentricity, those on the lower end often cannot talk at all and have difficulty expressing their needs, desires, and fears. Some will never be toilet-trained. Others engage in frequent self-injurious behavior—a nightmare for parents. Sleep disturbances are common. And while the high-functioning bloggers may disagree, it’s hard to find the blessing in a condition that prevents so many who have it from making any long-term, meaningful decisions about the direction of their adult lives.
The real "victims" of autism are ALWAYS parents. When autistic people injure themselves, the damage it does to their bodies and to their spirits is not worth mentioning or thinking about-- all Brown can see is "a nightmare for parents." Although it is not fair to hold her responsible for the headline, it does accurately describe her attitude-- "As Scientists Race to Diagnose Babies, Autistic Kids, Families Suffer On."
Brown mischaracterizes autistic bloggers in two ways-- the messages we send about autism and our functional level. She is telling a general audience that a disenfranchised group is unworthy of their attention. It's the old "If you can talk about your autism, you aren't autistic enough to know anything about what REAL autism is like" routine.
It makes me really sad that hateful parents like Hannah Brown get published in The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times, while autistic writers ourselves tend to have no platform beyond our own blogs.
This would explain so much, the mean sprited jokes he thinks are funny. His inablity to connect with people. The make him human issues his campaign is having.
And is inability to connect empathically with a Women standing right infront of him who just became homeless in an instant.
I am not posting this to make light of Autism or Autistic people, my youngest son is on the spectrum. I truely believe this is what's wrong with Mitt. And I think he has gone his entire life undiagnosed. And if someone is Running for President with any kind of health issue we need to know about it. He could say the wrong thing to a world leader and we could all pay the price for it.
So-- Heather has a son on the spectrum. And she thinks autistic people are "mean spirited" and that something is wrong with us. And someone with Asperger's should never be president because he might "say the wrong thing to a world leader."
This is similar to what Joe Scarborough did when he claimed that he just knew the movie theater shooter in Colorado had to be on the "autism scale." He also made sure his audience knew that his son has Aspergers, so he knew what he was talking about.
They are both using their status as parents of autistic people to make bigoted statements more convincing and more palatable.
It's hard for me to say how angry this makes me or how morally wrong or harmful to autistic people I think it is. When parents teach people to fear their own kids, they are stealing opportunities from them.
Heather has gotten 117 replies so far, a few calling her out for her bigotry, many agreeing. She has inspired a copycat thread about Joe Biden:
As we know, Aspies often make clueless and inappropriate comments and bad jokes. They tend to blurt out exactly what they think without considering (or being aware of) how it will come across. Joe is well known for these. As much if not more so than Romney and his opinion of cookies. Do we all remember Joe's "articulate and clean" comment about Obama? Here is a list of "Bidenisms."
In a stunningly bigoted editorial, the Washington Times ridicules efforts by the United States Justice Department to hire more people with disabilities:
You don’t have to have a severe intellectual disability to work at the Justice Department. But it helps.
According to a July 31 policy memo titled “Hiring of persons with targeted disabilities,” otherwise problematic mental deficiencies are no barrier to jump-starting a career at Justice. The memo lists a number of “targeted disabilities” that trigger special hiring privileges in compliance with President Obama’s Executive Order 13548. Among them are people with “severe intellectual disability,” “psychiatric disability” or other undefined “current severe physical, intellectual or mental conditions.” Most employers would balk at even minor mental disabilities in hiring a lawyer, let alone severe ones. But the policy states that the Cabinet department run by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. must “achieve a work force from all segments of society,” which includes those who are teetering on the edge of sanity.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network responds:
According to The Washington Times, disabled people are hopelessly damaged goods: we are automatically unqualified or poorly qualified for positions within the Justice Department, and inherently incapable of providing taxpayers with a “superior level of public service.” The author ignores the long-standing and deeply entrenched ableism that pervades hiring processes in the public and private sectors. Along with perpetuating damaging stereotypes about disabled people—particularly those of us with developmental and psychiatric disabilities—the author makes bold assertions based on factual inaccuracies.
One of the things that bothers me most about reporting about autism and autistic people is that it tends to focus on our parents and treat us as secondary. Andy Hachadorian of the Chester County Daily Local takes this to an absurd level with his story about Ann and Rob Clemins, and their young adult daughter Erin, who has Asperger's syndrome, and who he calls "their success story."
Here is how the reporter describes Erin (emphasis mine):
To the casual observer, some people with the disorder — like Erin — find nothing unusual about the person. In fact, in several interviews Erin displayed no odd behaviors, no unusual rituals, nothing that would lead one to think she was any different from any other 23-year-old woman.
The fact that she did several interviews with him is noteworthy because Erin is not quoted once in the entire story.
Instead, we get her parents talking about her. As though she were an object.