Autistics Speaking Day, and the word is beware. Beware! For here be monsters. On Halloween we celebrate imaginary monsters, but monsters are all too real in the world of autism. So too are the dangers they bring. If you want to speak up for autistic people, then speak out against these monsters.
(Inspired by Toby Allen’s Real Monsters.)
The Curebie Quacksalver
The Curebie insists autism can be cured, and his bag of tricks is full of deadly potions he’s willing to try on innocent test subjects. Treatments like bleach, or chelation. He cares not for any ill effects of his remedies, so convinced is he that the patient can “recover.” The idea of autism acceptance, he dismisses as laziness. The Curebie’s dogged persistence is rooted in his deep-seated hatred of autism.
The Denier Diablo
The Denier is learned in the dark arts, able to raise from the dead theories that have been scientifically banished, most notably a link between vaccines and autism. With one head perpetually buried in the sand, he ignores reality while cherry-picking statistics to support his outlandish claims. His other head wears a gas mask to guard against environmental toxins. The Denier is prone to tirades about the “truth” behind what causes autism. His arguments against vaccination risk reanimating the most lethal of all zombies, preventable disease, like measles.
The Celebrity Spellbinder
The Celebrity is the Big Cheese, the High Muckamuck, the Top Banana. But it’s her ideas about autism that are truly bananas. This behemoth personality uses her fame as a platform for pseudoscience, legitimizing what would otherwise be a fringe movement. She is known to distort or overgeneralize information, smearing the name of autistic people, falsely linking them to evils such as pedophilia. The Celebrity has blood on her hands from her ever-mounting body count of deaths and preventable illnesses suffered by her followers.
The Surrogate Silencer
The Surrogate fancies himself a spokesperson for the disabled, though not disabled himself. With his oversize megaphone, he readily raises his shrill voice over others, his loud volume justified (in his mind) by his advanced degree or job title. Not satisfied to drown out autistic voices, he would even silence them, through rules like “quiet hands.” The Surrogate is a skilled ghost-writer, churning out policies and fundraising appeals without representation from those he purports to serve! This specter’s menace is his denial of equal rights, like educational opportunities, or organ transplants, based on disability. He makes it about you, without you.
The Poison-Tongued Phantasm
The Poison-Tongue espouses vile, bigoted attitudes about autism, which she liberally dishes from behind the safety of her masked face. She harasses autistic people and their families with threatening letters slipped under doors, asking that they “do the right thing” and move, or put their child away somewhere permanent. The Poison-Tongue leaves in her wake the use of slurs like the R-word, poor grammar, and liberal use of exclamation points. She may hide her face, but never her forked tongue.
The Cold-Blooded Caregiver
The Caregiver who murders her autistic child has decided it is better to be dead than disabled. She believes herself an “angel of mercy” who is saving her child from suffering, when she has lost faith in supportive services and her own ability to cope. Many times, if only a true angel had intervened, her challenges and fears might have been properly addressed, before she acted out of desperation. Other times, she is purely selfish, focusing on her own stress instead of her child’s needs, even to the point of winning public sympathy for herself, with the life lost seen only as a footnote. What could be more monstrous?
Incredibly, all these real monsters of autism claim they are actually doing good. As long as these misconceptions persist, autistic people face real danger. This Autistics Speaking Day, let’s keep it real, and call a monster a monster.
Thoughts and illustrations on living with Asperger's Syndrome.