Autism, Vaccines, and the Distressed American
Autism is not caused by vaccines…we all know this. But what is the underlying issue at hand?
Wakefield did a study in 1999 that stated that vaccines cause autism. The follow-up investigation of 500 children led to no connection. After this, there was a study of 10,000 children in 2001. Still no connection. In 2002, a study from Denmark showed no connection with 537,000 children. Also, the same year in Finland, a study of 535,000 children led to no connection. In 2004, Lancet released information that disproved the original information. They conducted invasive studies on the children without obtaining the necessary ethical clearances… The problem was that they chose data that suited the needs of their case, which led to falsified facts. Then in 2005, 31 studies of 10,000,000 children still led to no connection. In 2012, 58 different types of studies with 14,700,000 children led to a debunked study. Meaning the evidence is that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism. It never has (source).
All of this information mentioned above is important. Yet, many Americans still believe this information that vaccines “do”, because they always tend to believe that doctors are always right, and they also are afraid of their child being autistic. If one study said it, there must be a reason. Yet no one is perfect, and so neither are doctors. But we have people still in this society that will believe anything they see because they are so oblivious. The anti-vaccine movement is superfluous to society because it creates the stereotype that vaccines do cause autism and they clearly do not. I do not understand why there is a need for the constant desire to not vaccinate your kid…. oh wait…. but I do know why. People are afraid of autism. They are so fearful of something they will never fully understand in the modern world today, and we still fear the unknown. When we do not understand something as human beings, we start to question it. Some of us take an open-minded approach, while others do not. Most people look at autism as a burden…. even if they think that it’s not. Why? Because, no matter how many times I can say to someone, “Autism is like ___ or ___, they will never truly ever be able to know what it is like or understand it’s entirety. Vaccines will never cause autism. They don’t. Why? The CDC says so here.
The problem is that people are afraid of my disability, as if it is some god-awful tragedy. Even if you think you are not seeing it as a burden, there will still be that underlying ignorance. The ongoing onslaught with the lack of knowledge from the white male, lower class men who are privileged that choose not to trust science based on religious theocracy are damaging the rest of society. Why? It is simply because they perpetuate the stigma that is constantly associated around autism. The choice of words one can use to describe another can have a significant impact, depending on the tone and how the nonverbal communication is presented. And though this society is so “fed up” with people being oversensitive about choice of words, and how political correctness matters, people will still insist that words are not only materialistic, and can have “more than one definition.” How would it feel if I came to you, reader, and told you that you’re a burden to society because of your mental illness, or because of the way in which you speak, or how you deal with change? You would not like it, would you? So then why does society still feel like they have the right to tell me how I should live my life, as if they do understand me? It’s incredibly offensive to tell someone that you know what their life is like, is it not? Telling autistics that we are disease-based, or even mentally ill, is significantly hurtful because autism is not a mental illness or a disease. It has nothing to do with vaccines. The number one cause of autism (and there is more than one)? Genetics. Environmental factors such as fetal alcohol syndrome can cause autism, but the MMR vaccine has nothing to do with autism. Mercury has been proven to not cause autism. How? Click here.
A lot of antivaxxers like to assume that we are disease filled because they were taught that autism is a burden and that it is curable. The ongoing toxic language that we use in society to describe autistic people is, in fact, damaging to society because it creates the stigma that there is a need for a cure, and that we should be fixed. In history, up until 1980, autism was considered a philosophical topic. This is indeed harmful to my community in history, because at that time, people were debating over whether we existed or not. We have existed since the beginning of time that humans arrived on this earth. But, in history, we were not up to par with the information we have now back in the 1500s-1800s. There were several geniuses, but they identified themselves as socially awkward and different, not as autistic. The public constantly would ridicule them for who they were, and constantly demanded a change in behavior. The people who did not “pass” in society at this time were put into institutions. And yet, that is still happening today. A man known as Hans Asperger, during WW2 in Nazi, Germany, helped to hide several verbal and nonverbal autistics during this time. He could not really help the nonverbal autistics as much, because the Germans would kill them (burnings into fires, etc.) And then a group of like-minded parents, who wanted to cure us after the name was put into the DSM, helped form Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks was started by a couple who felt their grandson was not behaving well, and wanted to fix that. With their foundation as a start, Autism Speaks sparked the ongoing stigma about autism, and thus why we have people who will believe anything. They took the word cure out of their mission statement, but that does not mean that they have stopped their research into finding a cure. Notice the hateful rhetoric used in research articles. Notice the ongoing campaigning by Autism Speaks that dehumanizes us as human beings.
Autism parents, other wise known as “Autism Warriors” are parents that cannot accept their kid or adult, and pressure them into being something that they are not. We constantly are misunderstood by parents, doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, etc. because these people do not live with the disability. The minute someone gets uncomfortable around someone else with my disability is the minute the internal ableism for that person kicks in. Because of the hate in the past, we are stuck with a society that thinks that autism is a burden, and that autistics are not really human beings. But we are human beings, and were not talked about enough in the past up until the late 20th century into the 21st century. I’d like to see more compassion, less hate, less autism awareness and more autism acceptance. We already, in society, exist. But acceptance is more important than awareness. Learning to accept an autistic for who they are will not hurt you in the long run. And that also starts with vaccinating your kid or yourselves. Some believe that autism is contagious. Again, autism is not. I wonder why our current american and world perceptions about autism are so skewed. It’s because we’ve never really been allowed to advocate for ourselves. I’m sure if the NT population was treated like we are, they would not like it. So why does it continue? Guys, as someone who is autistic, please just remember that you’re fine, autism isn’t a burden or a disease, and even if you are autistic yourself, you’ve got to remember that you are stronger than you think.
Please, save everyone the measles and the mumps, and go vaccinate yourself/your kids. And try not to fear autism. Autism is hard, sure, but you’d be saving a lot of people the trouble by reminding them that it’s not a disease.