We always enjoy hearing from readers. Here’s an e-mail I received this week from someone going by the pen name Potato Part:
“I will preface this with the fact that I am autistic.
“I accidentally ran across Age of Autism. Age of Autism is the type of stuff that actually hurts autistic people. This type of thing makes it seem like the parents are suffering when their kids are autistic. That's complete bullshit.
“Those parents are the ones trying to kill us in an attempt to ‘cure’ us. It is definitely very nice to see that we are hated. I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for helping the content that hurts autistic people. Thank you for putting out content that gets autistic people killed. Thank you for actively harming autistic people. Thank you for reminding us that we are thought of as burdens.
“Thank you for making it harder for autistic people to live. Thank you for the content that makes autistic people suicidal. Thank you for making our life harder. Thank you for making our life worse.”
Another commenter this week wrote the following:
“We have 16 yr old severe autistic child with violent behavior. We cant leave such a beautiful girl in this world alone after us. So we decided to live till we can bear. When we reach a point beyond which we can't pull any more, we will end our roles in this world along with her. People may call us escapists, but after taking this decision, we started enjoying life. We are sure nobody else can take care of such children other than parents.
"Doctors/scientists/bureaucrats/politicians - Put some more efforts/grant enough funds to research more to find solution ASAP to save families suffering from this problem.”
Those two comments just about cover the waterfront, I’d say.
Obviously, premeditated murder-suicide out of despair for the future of one’s child, as this parent is promising, is not OK. Autistic people like Potato Part feeling suicidal, or at least that his or her life is made harder and that they are hated after reading sites like ours, is not OK.
It’s not my place to offer a glib counterargument to either, although in my opinion death just postpones your karma, so you might as well work it out in this life and ask for -- demand -- all the help you need to do so. The degree of suffering in both these comments is awful and deserves empathy though not encouragement or consent, a difference those of us in happier circumstances have an obligation to convey.
People high-functioning enough to write a note like Potato Part’s might fairly be asked to drop the nihilistic sarcasm and say plainly what they might, or we should, do to make life better not just for themselves but for autistic individuals so incapacitated that their parents believe it would be an act of love to kill them. Parents who think their kids will be better off dead than without them might want to consider Potato Part’s perspective, as well as resources like TACA, before settling on such a dire strategy. I wrote a few weeks ago about a hundred flowers blooming in terms of ideas for group living and other remedies for institutions and social isolation. A lot of families are in this boat. Don't jump ship. Reach out.
Another comment this week from a regular reader about a conference Mark Blaxill and I were attending left me a little perplexed: It began: “Dan, you do amazing work but I probably won't watch because the conference looked too slick and commercial, which to me means they will probably downplay the role of vaccines in the health crisis.”
Well, first, thank you, and second, you are seriously harshing my buzz, dude. The Real Truth About Health Conference in Orlando did anything but “downplay” the role of vaccines in the health crisis. I’ll say more about it later when I have some video and transcripts to share, but this falls in the category of not wanting to join the kind of club that would have us as members, doesn’t it? Or something like that.
I picked up a Time magazine at the airport on the way to the Orlando conference. Mistake.
“We shouldn’t dismiss people who deny facts,” wrote Sara E. Gorman and Jack M. Gorman in a short Viewpoint. “It’s easy to dismiss people who believe things that are factually incorrect – that vaccines cause autism, for example, or that climate change isn’t real.” The article attempted to “empathize” with us poor benighted souls. Since no one knows what causes autism – speak for yourselves, Sara E. and Jack M. – “we tend to fill in the gaps ourselves” and respond more to stories than statistics.
“That’s precisely what makes it more natural for antivaxxers to ‘imagine’ the risk of their children dying from a vaccine than it is for them to comprehend statistics that say otherwise.” The article, dripping with condescension masquerading as wuv, sweet wuv, concluded, “changing minds requires compassion and understanding, not disdain.” As J.B. Handley put it on The Doctors a few years back, “I don’t need your sympathy.”
The idea that we are so pitiably illogical comes in the midst of a rather illogical argument, doesn’t it? Many who saw their child descend into autism after a shot were not (duh!) and are not “anti-vaxxers,” nor are they relying on “stories” about children dying. They are sharing what they saw. The Gormans might try listening.
The Russians apparently hacked the records of some of our Olympians, and the media is reporting on Simone Biles’ ADHD. That’s a terrible invasion, but nothing for her to be ashamed of. It does reinforce a point I made a few weeks back about all the health challenges this year’s Olympians faced – including Michael Phelps, who has spoken openly about his own ADHD. We’re going to start needing a para-para-Olympics for our only “slightly” disabled athletes. Otherwise I’m not sure they’ll be able to put together a men's water polo team in 2020.
Did you see how the sugar interests paid Harvard researchers decades ago to blame fat, not sugar, for ill health and obesity several decades ago? That’s a big deal as it skewed us away from what has since become obvious – that there wasn’t that much wrong with our grandparents’ diets (and theirs, and theirs) until sugar and preservatives came pouring into just about everything we eat.
I’ve been writing about the role of sugar in the 1916 polio epidemic, and although this has nothing directly to do with it, it shows what comes first, and it's not the consumer.
Speaking of which, Bayer bought up Monsanto this week for $66 billion. Monsanto developed glyphosate. Bayer and DuPont created the ethylmercury seed disinfectant Ceresan that led to early cases of autism. DuPont and Dow recently merged. Dow and Monsanto supplied the government with Agent Orange. Coleen Boyle of the CDC helped minimize the role of Agent Orange in harming U.S. troops; she hid the cause of the autism epidemic, including the MMR cover-up described by William Thompson, and the dangers of ethylmercury-containing vaccines like the flu shot, DPT, HIB and Hep B. Thimerosal (Merthiolate) was invented for Eli Lilly by the same guy, Morris Kharasch, who invented Ceresan for DuPont and Bayer. Bayer bought up Monsanto ...
It’s a small, toxic world that spins round and round. And real people are really suffering because of it.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.