Friday, February 6, 2015

Eliminationist Narratives in the Vaccine "Debate"

Yes, measles is back. Yes, many infants in the U.S. have now been diagnosed with measles and may die because of unsupported misinformation spread by a man who had his medical license revoked. Now selfish parents are refusing to vaccinate their kids because it's their "right," ignoring the fact that it puts infants and immunocompromised individuals at risk. Because of lies, they put the health of their own children ahead of the health of possibly hundreds or thousands of others.

All terrible, but it started with an equally terrible exploitation of widespread ableism that says that the state of being autistic or anywhere on the autism spectrum is terrible. That it's an awful disease that ruins lives, that it's a terrible thing to happen to parents. Autistic children have been murdered by their parents, and those parents have received sympathy because "dealing with" autistic children is SO HARD.

Autistic people challenge this narrative. Many do not want a cure for autism as they don't see it as a disease, but just as a different way of being. They learn differently, they communicate differently, and they interact differently, but the only reason this should be difficult is that neurotypical people don't want to deal with differences. They don't want to change the way they think or adjust the way they communicate to accommodate others.

They'd rather eliminate autistic people altogether.

This issue is outlined very well in the article Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism, But That’s Not The Point. Stop Being Ableist. From the blog The Belle Jar.

Reconsider how you think of ableism and how you approach the vaccine issue. Don't throw autistic people under the bus and don't assume what they want.

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