slammerkinbabe: (fight me i'm irish)
Oh FFS, can we not just get RID of this woman?!

[Note: All that happened here was that Jenny McCarthy got a talk show and a multimedia deal with Oprah. She hasn’t said or done anything new beyond that. But I am at maximum Jenny McCarthy exposure, and I’ve been storing up this rant for a long time. So.]

I’ll tell you, I have just reached my limit with Jenny McCarthy. I’ve had it with her pretensions to scientific expertise when she apparently gets all her information out of the advertisements in yoga magazines, I’m tired of seeing her face on every third magazine in the grocery store, and I am especially tired -- dudes, I am RIGHTEOUSLY tired* -- of her bullshit talk about “curing autism”. I’ve had it. She shrills and skirls on and on about vaccines and autism until a definitive study is published FOR THE LIKE 25TH TIME indicating that vaccines are NOT linked to autism, and even now I’m not sure that she’s shut up about that. And then she persists in going on about “curing” and “healing” autism. Not parenting children with autism. Not helping kids with autism exist more easily in the neurotypical world. CURING them. She wants to fix the brains of all kids with autism. Because, you see, there is something wrong with them, the same way that there is something right with the brains of all neurotypical people, and so all of them need to be made neurotypical as quickly as possible. (Until they die of smallpox. But what are the odds of that? It’s not like vaccines have ever done anyone any good anyway, amirite?)

Look. I have a nonverbal learning disability, which is sort of right on the brink of being on the so-called “autistic spectrum”. It shares many qualities with Asperger Syndrome, and it’s linked with my sensory-integration disorder, which in turn shares qualities with autism. For these reasons, neurodiversity acceptance is an important issue to me. And I do know that I’m not autistic per se, and that as such, I maybe shouldn’t be the one to talk here. I know that whatever difficulties my NLD and SID have presented me with (and they have been troublesome), it’s nothing compared to the difficulties of handling the world as a severely autistic individual, or as the parent of a severely autistic individual. I know it’s easy for me to go all rah-rah neurodiversity when I’ve always been able to talk and interact and -- usually -- pass for neurotypical when I need to.

But I’m talking despite all of that, and here’s why. I’m talking because I do not believe that it is okay in any sense to be working towards “normalizing” the brains of people who think in a different way from the majority of people. I don’t even know where that begins and ends. Okay, autism is challenging. But many of the autistic spectrum people I’ve talked to (I’ve been to some of the conferences and met lots of people on the spectrum, although the majority of them probably were Aspies and didn’t have one of the more severe forms) say they wouldn’t trade in for a neurotypical brain under any circumstances. We like observing society from a little way off. We like having a different perspective. We like the quasi-savant qualities that many of us have, and we enjoy the driven, passionate dedications we have to certain things (computers or cars or stamp collecting or anything else you can name), even if they’re almost exclusive of all else and thus look really “weird” to the outer world. The external world can be really scary and it might make us throw temper tantrums or hide in small places, but those places feel safe, and it’s nice to feel safe. It isn’t nice to not feel safe -- not at all. But dealing with that lack of safety is part of our world, and most of us develop strategies for dealing with it. And it’s stuff like clicking or rocking or flapping or hiding, and so of course it doesn’t look “normal”. But if it works for us and it’s not hurting anybody, what in the hell gives people the idea that they have the right to judge?

And I say “we” because even though I’m not severely autistic I’ve read the words of those who are, describing their own experiences, and my God do I relate. I’m not autistic, not exactly. But the reason I know I am on that spectrum is because I understand everything I read about it so perfectly and so intuitively.

I’ve never read of, nor encountered, an autistic person who wanted to be “cured”. People who want help in dealing with the more difficult aspects of the disorder, sure. I don’t think anyone wants to scream when they’re touched or to be unable to stand the sound of people’s voices or to become completely overwhelmed in crowds or to be unable to communicate with those who love them. And for those whose temper tantrums lead them to lash out violently and potentially cause harm to others (though that's not as common as you may believe, either) -- of course that needs to be stopped as quickly as possible. Certainly there are aspects to autism that are difficult or painful for both the autistic person him/herself and/or for those around them. And any help that can be offered in making those difficult parts less difficult is great.

But no more talk about a fucking “cure”, okay? No more of this superior neurotypical privileged bullshit. Lose the conformity fixation, for God's sake. You’ll note that McCarthy’s books’ titles are “Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism” and “Mother Warriors: A Nation of Mothers Healing Autism Against All Odds”. Notice anything about those titles? I do. They both feature the words “mother”, “healing”, and “autism” -- and neither of them make a single reference to “Evan” (her son), “listening”, or “autistics”. Those books aren’t about people with autism, and they’re certainly not about listening to or trying to understand autistic people’s lived experiences. They’re about Jenny McCarthy being a mom who wants her kid to not have autism, and who decided to make a crusade of it along the way.

Anyway. Helping is cool. Understanding is cooler. “Curing” is fucking insulting.

There, I’m done.

*Can you even be righteously tired? Doesn’t matter. I so am.

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