By Jake Crosby
While there is little debate that severe Autism is a disability, there is an ongoing war about the effects of a milder variant of the disorder known as Asperger Syndrome (AS).
Naturally, anything that causes a person to be in self-contained classes for a decade, keeps him from having many friends, and causes him to have a history of anxiety, would appear to be a disability to most people. These are the ways I have been impacted by my AS; I can't think of anything positive it has done other than my sense of accomplishment after overcoming some of its challenges. However, a small, new camp is emerging from within the Autistic community of Aspies who believe AS and even Autism in general is a great thing.
This politically correct group of people says that Autism is not a disorder, but a "way of life." They deny that any environmental factors such as mercury and vaccines could have caused Autism and they claim they were meant to be Autistic. Most of all, they rail against any potential for a "cure," and see wiping out Autism as synonymous with wiping out the people themselves. While there are many mildly Autistic people like me who are busy trying to overcome our challenges as much as we can and severely Autistic people who are struggling to even speak a word, this crowd is getting more and more vocal about their staunchly pro-Autism views.
Whenever asked about how Autism has benefited them, they make irrelevant connections to their redeeming qualities such as photographic memories, musical talent or computer skills. Oddly enough, none of these qualities can be found in the DSM-IV on Autism. Furthermore, there are people out there who possess all of these skills and are not Autistic. The pro-Autism party tries to claim that Autism makes people intelligent, when it's entirely possible that Autism's environmental triggers tend to affect those of high intelligence.
Strangely enough, even these autism defenders admit to going through major challenges their whole lives as a result of their AS. I read their experiences online, and they are a lot like mine: emotional problems, problems in school, problems at work, problems at home, problems seemingly everywhere they went. Yet, they then go on to claim it's part of "neurodiversity," even saying Autism is an evolutionary step forward. But what "evolutionary step" could lead to a whole population of people needing disability benefits from the government or a disability classification in schools? One Autism advocate wrote he believes AS is an evolutionary step forward and that he wanted disability pensions from the government for it - all in the same breath! How can evolutionary advantage even be argued with people who have problems forming relationships, a prerequisite to sexual reproduction? Evolution is the result of Natural Selection, but Darwin's "Survival of the Fittest" would not favor autism traits.
Despite this, these people are determined to see AS as a positive advance in nature, not a negative impact from toxicity or any other cause. When confronted with the emerging information that the 6000% increase in Autism is related to poisons in vaccines that are overused, they instantly say there's "no evidence," citing the pharmaceutical/CDC party line. Similarly, they ignore mountains of independent studies that show the link to Autism just as the CDC has. While the "neurodiversity" advocates and the pharma-goons clearly have separate agendas, they act similarly.
And yet, they're actually on completely opposite ends of the problem. On the one hand, we have the wrongdoers who are trying to protect their careers and their reputations by denying any responsibility for the problem they have created. On the other hand are a sub-group of their victims who do not like admitting that they are victims. Yet, most of these people by the time they were 2 months old had received 62.5 micrograms of ethylmercury - 99 times the EPA limit on methylmercury, a less toxic substance.
In a strange way, there is a parallel here. The pro-Autism party, like pharma/CDC, sees that they have a lot to protect too. They believe autism is an inseparable component of their identity, and view it as a strength rather than a disorder. Of course, the major difference is that with the pro-Autism party it is merely the illusion of something to protect that has fueled their campaign. Autism is not really who they are, nor is it a positive characteristic; it is a disorder.
My parents were unusual in trying to find out why I was the way I was and in seeking helpful treatment outside mainstream medicine. This is in sharp contrast to parents who would simply accept the explanation that their children are "wired differently." So I never I felt that I needed to "like" having AS, although I do accept it.
When people cannot easily search for logic, they make up their own. The problem is once that has happened, it is very hard to change their minds, even if the evidence is right in front of them. Tragically, this has become one more advantage to the people who are the cause of the problem. No one else can be more useful to them than this group of people reiterating their denial that vaccines don't cause Autism and actually saying that it is a good thing to have, even though they suffered from it too.
If only they would stop pretending Autism is in any way beneficial, and realize that their true strengths are who they really are, and that their disability is not. I can't speak for all, but as someone with Autism I can say these people with my same condition who claim to speak for me do not. I do not believe these people speak for the majority of people with AS. No one else I have known with Autism has actually said they liked having it and I have yet to actually meet these people who do.
Jake Crosby is a student at Brandeis University who plans to major in history.