This is a new thing I'm doing, where I go back through my previous blog & post shit that is still relevant in its original form. I don't have the spoons to spit out content all the time, & some stuff I have been saying for way. too. long.
Original publication date of this one? May 9, 2006. Almost exactly 7 years ago.
"Like cancer, autism is probably many diseases with many causes". (Time, May 8 2006)
Mkay. I have a few problems with that statement. First, I do not have a disease. Second, the comparison is crap. Not the "many causes" part-the part where they put a neurological difference in the same realm as a deadly disease. It's also disrespectful, but I'll get to that after the bit about suggesting alternatives to the c-word.
For all journalists writing about autism: here is a list of conditions that are much more similar in cause and how much they can screw up your life (i.e. none of them are intrinsically deadly, though a lot of people have been killed for being autistic and for some of these other conditions too):
motor difficulties (fine & gross, includes mobility)
and probably many many others. Things that don't cause death. This list is not exhaustive.
Now, why I feel the autism/cancer comparison is disrespectful. First, it's disrespectful to autistic people. We don't have something growing in us attempting to kill us. We don't have a "devastating disease" which, let's face it, cancer usually is. We don't require painful chemotherapy to stay alive. The cancer comparison is nothing but lazy writing and a way to promote funding to people trying to get rid of us.
You know who else it disrespects? People affected by cancer. Ask anyone who lost a child to cancer-they'd have that child back, autistic, cognitively challenged, it wouldn't matter. Their child would be changed (in some cases almost to someone not the kid they remembered) but they would have their baby back. Ask anyone going through chemotherapy if there's anything worse than this. Hell no. Cancer is expensive, cancer is exhausting, and cancer KILLS. Give the families a little respect. Give the people who actually HAVE cancer a little respect.
Is it really that hard to respect autistics? And families dealing with cancer? Or are we just having a vocabulary failure by all our journalists at once? Regardless of the cause, time to fix it. Get Google Health (it's the handy directory). And an apology wouldn't be overdoing it either.
The Mothers On A Mission for Hysteria* do this too, but asking reasonable comparisons of them just gets you physically attacked. We can expect, request, and even get journalists to change. Extremists, they don't. They aren't worth my effort.
*note from the future: I would no longer use the word "hysteria", instead go with "irrational fear" or somesuch. But unaltered content is unaltered.