Saturday, September 26, 2009

"I Am Autism"

Autism Speaks's latest video, "I Am Autism", is the single most offensive thing I've ever seen.

I'm not going to get into the issue of Autism Speaks's history of excluding autistic people, its repeated patronization of us, its... well, you get the idea. I'm just going to confine myself to the video.

I will, however, comment that I think this despite the fact that I grew up in the South Florida Jewish community and have read Mein Kampf in its entirety. I am also quite familiar with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and have seen a translated brochure for Stalin World. During high school, I made something of a study of Soviet propaganda. Keep this in mind when I say that "I Am Autism" is the most offensive thing I've ever seen. It's that bad.

As I've tried to explain before, you cannot separate autism from autistic individuals. Anything said about autism is said about autistic people. Anything said about autism on a demographic level is said about the existence of us as a group; anything said about autism in a child is said about that child.

The following is, other than some changes in number (I changed a few uses of "I" to "we" for gramatical reasons) identical in meaning to the video. Hopefully, it will make just why the autistic community is so outraged a bit more apparent to anyone reading it:

(In sinister tones)

I am the existence of autistic people.

I am visible among your children, but I am invisible to you until it is too late.

I know where you live -- and guess what? I live there, too.

I hover around all of you. I know no color barrier, no religion, no morality, no currency. I speak your language fluently, and with every voice I take away, I acquire yet another language.

I work very quickly. The existence of autistic people works faster than pediatric AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined.

And, if you're happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails. Your money will fall into my hands, and I will bankrupt you for my own self-gain.

I don't sleep, so I'll make sure you don't, either.

Having an autistic child will make it virtually impossible for your family to easily attend a temple, a birthday party, a public park, without a struggle, without embarassment, without pain.

You have no cure for me. Your scientists don't have the resources, and autistic people relish their desperation.

Your neighbors are happier to pretend that I don't exist. Of course, until it's their child who's autistic.

We are autistic people. We have no interest in right or wrong. We derive great pleasure out of your loneliness; we will fight to take away your hope. We will plot to rob you of your children and your dreams. We will make sure that every day you wake up, you will cry, wondering "Who will take care of my child after I die?"

And the truth is, we are still winning and you are scared, and you should be.

I am the existence of autistic people. You ignored me. That was a mistake.

And that's the first half. To try and translate the second, I'd need to change the semantics a bit more. Suffice it to say that it's a determined statement that people are getting together to rip their actual child out of the "shell" that we are.

In other words, it's based on the implicit philosophy that we're not real people and that they need to make us into real people.


Edit: Katie Miller did a brilliant parody of the video here. I'm still laughing.


  1. I was disgusted when I saw that video. As a person who is in contact with autistic individuals nearly every day, I cannot possibly understand how someone can view them as a disease.
    I can however, understand the video a little better if they replaced the word "autism" with "the world's inability to connect to an autistic individual". The "wall" can be something to fight. The person with autism is a beautiful and interesting person (most, i find are more interesting that most NT's, but that just might be my bias towards novelty.)
    A parent can fight to connect to their child, and to have others understand their child, but never against what makes a child who they are.
    To me, its just about as senseless as fighting against a skin or eye color.

  2. Autism Speaks's goal is the creation of a world without us in it. This is openly stated in a number of places, including their website. Any and all statements from them should probably be interpreted with this in mind.

    That said, I fully agree with your comment.

  3. Wow Alex, did you just get banned from Denise's list? I'm just checking my e-mail and I found things got a little controversial. Are they not allowing you to post anymore?

  4. Denise moderates all posts to the list. When I came out against the DAN-ers and anti-vaccine quacks, they banded together and mailed her en-massse.

    Since then, Denise has been simply been rejecting almost all of my posts.

  5. In your posts, you are RIGHT in what you are saying, but people don't get that far because they reject the words because you sound like a jerk.
    I mean that in the most helpful way.

  6. I understand. Unfortunately, I have problems with coming across as nice when dealing with hate speech.

  7. "single most offensive thing I've ever seen."


  8. K,

    Links and the like are provided within the blog entry.