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Advertisement to 'Wipe Out' Autism Sparks Outrage

Posted by on Jul. 16, 2013 at 9:34 AM
  • 93 Replies
1 mom liked this

Advertisement to 'Wipe Out' Autism Sparks Outrage

by Julie Ryan Evans

autismIn Seattle, a bus advertisement with the best of intentions recently sparked outrage among some in the autism community. So much so that the Seattle Children's Hospital, who sponsored the advertisements, had to pull them from all buses.

Next to an adorable boy's smiling face was one sentence: "Let's wipe out cancer, diabetes, and autism in his lifetime." It seems like something with which no one could disagree --- who wouldn't want to wipe out autism? In fact, there are actually more than a few people who believe it's not something we should try to wipe out, but rather something that should be embraced.

Matt Young, co-leader of The Autistic Self Advocacy Network's Washington chapter, explained why it's offensive to some via his Tumblr account.

[The ad] may look to you like a simple message of hope, calling for an end to medical conditions that destroy lives. But despite popular opinion, that’s not what autism is. Unlike cancer or diabetes, autism is not a life-threatening condition. Autism itself often enriches lives; it is the fear, desperation and hatred that our culture currently holds for autism that can and does destroy lives.

It's not the first time we've heard this argument, and I understand it ... to a degree. I also admire him and those who hold these beliefs greatly for embracing the differences this disability brings with it -- but it is a disability. For so very many families, autism presents incredibly painful and difficult challenges. It can be heartbreaking and devastating, financially and emotionally. Parents of children with autism worry about their safety every day and lie awake at nights worrying about their future. While it may not technically be a disease (and no one really knows, so it could be), it can be no less harmful to a family than cancer or diabetes.

For some on the high-functioning end of the spectrum, it may just be part of what makes them them. However, I have a hard time believing that anyone -- if given the chance -- wouldn't prefer to live (or have their children live) in a world without every emotional and social advantage they could have without a disability.

Wishing away something that affects your child's health doesn't mean that you don't love your child (or yourself) as they are. I don't know one family affected by autism who doesn't wish they'd never heard that word, even though they love their children fiercely. And society wanting to spare people the pain that comes with autism doesn't mean we hate people who have it. Does society have a long way to go when it comes to understanding autism and embracing those who have it? Absolutely, but I also don't think that means we shouldn't do everything we can to stop it from affecting anyone we can.

Do you understand/agree with the reason people wanted these advertisements pulled?

by on Jul. 16, 2013 at 9:34 AM
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Replies (1-10):
cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Jul. 16, 2013 at 9:38 AM
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As the mother of a child with autism, I have mixed feelings about this. I think the ad's intention was good, but some of us believe that the autism is what makes our kids who they are. For those of us with higher-functioning autistic kids, a large part of their personality *IS* the autism. So to say we're going to wipe that out would wipe out who are kids are. So that, I would say, is offensive. 

Those who have lower functioning children on the spectrum might have an entirely different take on this, and I'd love to hear from them, because I know they have it so much harder than I do. 

jadedcynic
by NerdyJen on Jul. 16, 2013 at 10:40 AM

As someone on the spectrum myself, I've never thought Autism was something that could be cured. It's a part of my personality and a part of my son's personality. Our brains work differently. It doesn't disable us. It gives us abilities in different areas than most people. Yes, it can be difficult and frustrating at times, but wiping it out would likely take radical treatments like electroshock therapy or lobotomies. We can control the severity of symptoms, but never will we be able to completely eliminate them.

Dee0886
by Bronze Member on Jul. 16, 2013 at 10:42 AM
1 mom liked this

Seeing how my uncle struggles with his autism, i see nothing wrong with this.

Piskie
by Bronze Member on Jul. 16, 2013 at 10:44 AM
My friend doesn't want to be cured of being him. He likes his uncomplicated life.
MamaJess9
by Bronze Member on Jul. 16, 2013 at 10:45 AM
1 mom liked this
I took it more as finding the cause(s) and therefore preventing, not curing. Finding a way to make sure no more people are born with autism I. the first place.

I can't imagine anyone not thinking that would be a good thing.

I do understand not wanting to change who you are, or who your child is now, but I can't imagine anyone saying they want their future children to be autistic if there were a choice.


Quoting jadedcynic:

As someone on the spectrum myself, I've never thought Autism was something that could be cured. It's a part of my personality and a part of my son's personality. Our brains work differently. It doesn't disable us. It gives us abilities in different areas than most people. Yes, it can be difficult and frustrating at times, but wiping it out would likely take radical treatments like electroshock therapy or lobotomies. We can control the severity of symptoms, but never will we be able to completely eliminate them.

jadedcynic
by NerdyJen on Jul. 16, 2013 at 10:53 AM
2 moms liked this

A large number of our scientists and other scholars have been on the spectrum. It is their strict attention to detail, obsession, and curiousity that makes advances in technology possible. Let's say we get rid of that characteristic and nobody new is born with that combination of abilities and talents. Our civilizatiion would slowly level off in terms of innovation. I just don't think people realize the contribution that people on the spectrum do provide our society. It is their quirks and obsessions that make so much of our advancement possible.

Quoting MamaJess9:

I took it more as finding the cause(s) and therefore preventing, not curing. Finding a way to make sure no more people are born with autism I. the first place.

I can't imagine anyone not thinking that would be a good thing.

I do understand not wanting to change who you are, or who your child is now, but I can't imagine anyone saying they want their future children to be autistic if there were a choice.


Quoting jadedcynic:

As someone on the spectrum myself, I've never thought Autism was something that could be cured. It's a part of my personality and a part of my son's personality. Our brains work differently. It doesn't disable us. It gives us abilities in different areas than most people. Yes, it can be difficult and frustrating at times, but wiping it out would likely take radical treatments like electroshock therapy or lobotomies. We can control the severity of symptoms, but never will we be able to completely eliminate them.


romalove
by Roma on Jul. 16, 2013 at 10:59 AM
4 moms liked this

I am reminded of the deaf community being upset about cochlear implants.  There are some who don't want to cure deafness.

I have two nephews on the autism spectrum, one is more severely impacted than the other.  Autism is a struggle, no matter how much a person thinks it gives them parts of their personality.  You don't know what parts of your personality would come forth and shine through without the autism.  People who are high functioning are able to get around the struggles enough to engage in the overall community.  My less impacted nephew will likely be able to do that as well, although he has personality difficulties linked to his autism and his inability to be empathetic to others.  My more impacted nephew will never be able to be part of the mainstream of society, and I think if there was a cure my sister in law would take it in a heartbeat.

It is good to accept people including their differences.  It is also good to try and maximize people's abilities.

TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Jul. 16, 2013 at 11:45 AM
No. Who would not want this to disappear?
Mommy_of_Riley
by Jes on Jul. 16, 2013 at 11:50 AM
I think the intention wasn't meant to be mean...

However I do not and will not compare Autism to Cancer.
Cancer is life threatening.
Autism is not.
Cancer has a cure.
Autism does not.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
stormcris
by Christy on Jul. 16, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Having a cousin who is forced to be in a mental institution because of this, I think people need to consider what the girl was typing about how she felt with that condition. Sure it makes the parents special but what is it actually doing to the child? I would want a cure for my cousin.

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