Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Awareness kills.

Yesterday they released the news of another child killed because of the ableism that the rhetoric of tragedy fosters.

Daniel Corby, age 4, was drowned by his mother in San Diego. Already people, including the media, are leaping to say that autism is so hard, no wonder she went over the edge. No. No. No. You don't say that. There is no excuse to kill people.

And this is what awareness does. The dominant narrative is that of hopelessness. The dominant narrative is of isolation and despair. The dominant narrative is that we are perpetual burdens, never to grow or be anything but 100% dependent. The dominant narrative is of tragically unhappy lives.

Awareness is wrong. We are, on the whole, not unhappy. We do not need the terror around how many of us there are. We do not benefit in any way from information that makes us sound like scary, alien beings. And we do not benefit from being seen as less than human, as things to be endured rather than people to be embrace.

Daniel could have had any of a number of futures. Now he has none of them. This is unacceptable.

Stop killing us.


Roia said...

It's particularly disturbing that people would have that kind of a "oh, poor mom" reaction to an autistic child being killed given the insane drama around the whole Casey Anthony case. Gah, it's hard to know: how do we keep people safe? Sighing heavily this morning.

Karen V. said...

With the media, it will always be the bad stuff that gets highlighted. What a shame. There is so much to praise and so much love and wonder with autism. Awareness must change. You are right. It is NOT all bad.

Spectrum Views said...

There needs to be a serious backlash against Autism Speaks and other groups that transmit anti-autistic bigotry memes. Even though most people who hear this pervasive denigration won't act on it, every few weeks we're seeing what happens when someone takes it too seriously.

"Autistics aren't really human" + "Autism will destroy your family" = "We're sorry you got arrested for killing your autistic child"

It isn't just that these groups have free speech and choose to use it abusively--they're doing it in the name of helping us. But they're not helping us, and we see how their actions make things worse. Calling Autism Speaks an autism charity is like calling the Ku Klux Klan a racial harmony charity. When all the autistics or blacks are gone, the bigots will find harmony. (Meanwhile, the leaders are rolling in high salaries from those donations...)

Does free speech include the right to make false statements inciting violence against individuals with neurological differences? We don't let the Klan incite violence by fearmongering about black stereotypes, so why should Autism Speaks, Age of Autism, etc. get away with it?

Equal rights for blacks was pretty radical in the 1950s and we still haven't achieved a colorblind society. But we've come far enough that any public figure who talked about blacks the way the Wrights and Dr. Bryna Siegel talk about autistics would be shamed off the stage for it.

I know that ASAN and some wonderful people in the autistic community (such as our blog owner) are doing their best to speak out. Kudos for you, of course. But there are so few of us compared to them and their massive publicity budget.

Brenda Rothman (Mama Be Good) said...

You are right, K. The public conversation and description of autism so far has centered around tragedy - even without a parent murdering their child. It's almost a "well, we knew something bad would happen - autism, you know."

We need to take back the public discourse.

Patty O. said...

You are so totally right about this!

Anonymous said...

And of course, if those of us who are big enough to fight back start doing so, we get told how baaaaad and such we are. *shakes head*

Those films in which the entire world population is suddenly reduced to very little look more attractive with every passing day, honestly.