What's the big fuss if you are working to "eliminate" Autism? What's wrong if you say you're committed to eradicating it, for future generations? Why is it hurtful (and disturbing) when you promise to "prevent and cure anything along the Autism spectrum"? How come the terms "war on Autism," "Cure Autism Now," "Defeat Autism Now!" and others are downright frightening to people like me? Why does seeing celebrities peddling diets, supplements, and other "cures" for autism disturb me? Is it anything other than brave, for a mom to openly admit she's contemplated taking her autistic child's life? Is it really wrong to routinely preach that autism devastates families, destroys marriages, and puts most into severe debt?
What, really, is the harm in any of this?
From the Peoria Star Journal:
Numerous witnesses said Karen McCarron, a former pathologist, couldn't accept Katie's autism and was obsessed with finding a cure.
When a cure couldn't be found and suggestions of institutionalizing the girl and giving her up for adoption were rejected by family members, she chose to kill her.
Katie was sent to a special school for children with autism in North Carolina, where she lived with her father for nearly two years. Karen McCarron pursued various types of therapies and hired caregivers to work with her daughter as the obsession with curing the autism grew.
We all know what happened next. Sadly, Katie's story makes my point all too well. The current view society has of autistics is that they really don't count. Millions of dollars are spent each year by researchers working to find a cure and by parents willing to try anything to "rid" their child of autism. So, what else is society to think? Their views of autism are coming from typically one source, those views are very negative. The public must wonder how anyone, any family, could ever live with autism.
As much as we prefer to not think about it, murders (and attempts) like this happened before and continue to happen. This is something that cannot be ignored, will not be ignored. The organizations, politicians, and anyone else who fills the airwaves with hateful and hurtful depictions of autism will no longer go unchecked. Our voices are larger and louder than ever before.
So, the next time someone asks you about curing autism or about Autism Speaks or about the article they read in the paper--perhaps tell them about Katie. Tell them the beautiful words Katie's grandfather has shared with us. Tell them about your own child, or any of our children. Tell them how our kids are just that, kids. Yes, they are autistic, they are beautiful, they are human, they are here with us, and they are so full of life. Let them know why promoting the idea that autism is dreadful, and that autistics are not really human, let them know how very hurtful and dangerous that is.