Dear Dr. Oz: Autistic People Can Talk
Dear Dr. Oz,
It is only now, about half an hour after I finished watching your show on autism that I have become incredulous. How is it possible that anyone would do an entire program about autism without including a single person who has autism in the discussion? I understand that your focus was on the causes of autism, but why are our opinions on that of no interest to you?
I am afraid the reason you excluded adults with autism from the discussion is that you wanted to make the show as scary as possible in order to bring in viewers. And it would have been hard to say the very mean things you said about people with autism if you had been face-to-face with one of the people you were saying them about.
Several times, you called autism the diagnosis that parents fear most. I truly believe that my parents would much prefer that I have it to terminal cancer. I think parents of almost all autistic people would rather have us be weird and expensive than dead.
But I don't think people who watched your show would know that. The sequence at the beginning was edited to include one women saying that sometimes she doesn't like her daughter. I don't think you included a single statement from a mother saying that she loved her child with autism. You included one statement from a parent saying her son had any accomplishments. Only one. Everything else was stimming (which you did not even explain) and fear.
But I am told daily by parents who have children with autism that they do love their kids. I am told daily by people with autism that they love their families. I share stories daily on my website about people with autism who are accomplishing things and living worthwhile lives.
Honestly, what other major group of people would be discussed on television in this way with no representation? As someone who is both autistic and gay, your program reminded me of panel discussions they used to have with doctors about "The Homosexual Problem"-- without a single gay person.
People with autism understand it in a way that no one else does. It impoverishes the discussion when we are left out of it, even when you are focused on causes. We are people who can speak for ourselves, and it is wrong to talk about us without giving us that opportunity.
You can contact Dr. Oz here.